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The Handbook of Lifespan Communication


Jon F. Nussbaum

The Handbook of Lifespan Communication is the foundational scholarly text that offers readers a state of the art view of the varied and rich areas of lifespan communication research. The fundamental assumptions of lifespan communication are that the very nature of human communication is developmental, and, to truly understand communication, change across time must be incorporated into existing theory and research. Beginning with chapters on lifespan communication theory and methodologies, chapters are then organized into the various phases of life: early childhood, adolescence, emerging adulthood, middle adulthood, and older adulthood. Top scholars across several disciplines have contributed to chapters within their domains of expertise, highlighting significant horizons that will guide researchers for years to come.
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Chapter Sixteen: Communicating in Professional Life: The Nature and Evolution of Superior-Subordinate Interactions

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The Nature and Evolution of Superior-Subordinate Interactions


Early adulthood is a time of uncertainty, exploration, change, and search for stability. By the time individuals reach middle adulthood, they typically have settled on particular types of career choices, identified with the sorts of organizations that they perceive as enabling them to pursue their careers and fulfill their professional aspirations, and actively sought to be members of particular ones. It is at this point that professional interactions become a dominant component of one’s day-to-day life. These interactions, moreover, are largely both defined and governed by the sorts of formal relationships in which one finds him- or herself within the organization or institution of which he or she has become a part, namely, ones in which he or she is a superior, subordinate, or peer. The interactions that transpire also have much to do with the evolution of such relationships in respect to mutual expectations, role enactment, relative status, motivations, duration, importance to the parties, and the like. The focus of this chapter is superior-subordinate relationships and the impact that interactions within them have on how one negotiates various aspects of his or her professional life, performs, and derives such satisfactions as he or she may experience during the period ranging from middle to later adulthood.

Most of the scholarship relevant to superior-subordinate interactions reflects a concern with the more general subject of organizational leadership even though, strictly speaking, the two domains are not...

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