Professor Ted Cooper gave this semester’s last speech in the SAM Center’s Up Close and Personal Series before a small crowd of students yesterday.
“I don’t think you could ask for a prettier day,” Cooper said.
Cooper is an SHSU alumnus. He first came to SHSU in 1980, and he earned both a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a master’s degree in Business Administration here. He said that the campus has grown and modernized since then.
“There has been a tremendous amount of change here on campus,” Cooper said.
He was on campus the night Old Main burned. He talked about firefighters standing on the roofs of other buildings, trying to keep the fire from spreading as they worked to put it out.
“It was a very traumatic evening, and one that I won’t forget,” he said.
Today, he teaches business communication courses in the College of Business, but the information he shared yesterday could have applied to anyone.
“I wished that I had participated more in organizations and developed more interpersonal skills,” he said.
Having good interpersonal skills helps people control their feelings in difficult situations and prevents them from being overcome by emotion. When Cooper worked for the police, he noticed that other officers also had deficient interpersonal skills. He believed that the lack of interpersonal skills damaged the relationship between the police and the community. He worked to train officers to develop better interpersonal skills.
Cooper said that three keys to having good interpersonal skills were developing an emotional vocabulary, learning to suspend judgment and actually talking with other people face-to-face.
Cooper said that part of suspending judgment is giving others an opportunity to speak.
“We’re a very judgmental society, and it interferes with our ability to form relationships,” Cooper said. “It’s amazing how many doors are opening for me just because I can manage a relationship.”
In class, Cooper tries to emphasize interpersonal skills and techniques with his students. He offered to show these skills to anyone who is interested.
“When I finally learned how to manage my emotions, it was like taking 20 pounds off my chest,” he said.
Cooper said that interpersonal skills are not taught in public schools, and it makes it difficult for people to communicate at an emotional level or demonstrate empathy. People who have developed good interpersonal skills will have more satisfying personal and business relationships. He advised students to look for mentors who had good relationships with their peers as a way of developing interpersonal skills.
Although Cooper’s speech was the last part of this semester’s Up Close and Personal Series, the SAM Center is offering a different speech, called Grassroots: Conversations on Leadership in a Diverse Community, on April 23. Contact the SAM Center at 936.294.4444 for more information.