When arriving to a social encounter, how and when can a person show how s/he is doing/feeling? This article answers this question, examining personal state sequences in copresent openings of casual (residential) and institutional (parent-teacher) encounters. Describing a regular way participants constitute—and move to expand—these sequences, this research shows how arrivers display a nonneutral (e.g., negative, humorous, positive) personal state by both (1) deploying interactionally timed stance-marking embodiments that enact a nonneutral state, and (2) invoking a selected previous activity/experience positioned as precipitating that nonneutral state. Data demonstrate that arrivers time their nonneutral personal state displays calibrated to their understanding of their relationship with coparticipants. Analysis reveals that arrivers use this action to proffer a firsthand experience as a self-attentive first topic that works as a bid for empathy, inviting recipients to collaborate in expanding the personal state sequence and thereby cocreate an empathic moment. Data in American English.



Publication Date


Journal Title

Research on Language and Social Interaction

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type



This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Research on Language and Social Interaction in 2018, available online: https://doi.org/10.1080/08351813.2018.1485225