Research is about discovering and advancing knowledge about things that matter. While my research has explored many issues, my overarching interest has always been on challenges people face in their relationships at home, school, and work. I have written numerous articles and books related to my research.
At the beginning of my career, I was keenly interested in how shyness affected people's communication and the consequences of that shyness in their personal and professional lives. Later, I examined the role of other personality variables in social interactions. Thus, we (with colleagues and students) studied dispositions such as conversational sensitivity and conversational narcissism. We also examined how people elicit guilt in others and strategically build affinity in their relationships.
For a number of years I've been interested in questioning skills (e.g., how asking the same question in slightly different ways leads to very different answers), persuasiveness (e.g., what makes someone believe they are more persuasive than others), and public presentations (e.g., we find that people's judgements of speakers are determined more by how speakers handle objections and questions than how those speakers deliver their formal message).
In recent years, we've also explored the role of interpersonal communication in applied setting. We've examined how people successfully advocate for their ideas within organizations (there is a politics of ideas in any organization), how people interact when working on dispersed teams, how customers successfully communicate with companies when experiencing service problems, and how leaders effectively or ineffectively "kill" innovation projects while simultaneously encourage innovators to bring up new ideas.
I have also worked on a number of projects focused on communication in the classroom and people's fear or liking for writing.