CHAPTER 4 Communication in Relationships
Chapter Outline The Nature of Interpersonal Communication Conflict in Relationships Principles and Techniques of Effective Communication Self-Disclosure, Honesty, and Lying Gender Differences in Communication Theories Applied to Relationship Communication Fighting Fair: Seven Steps in Conflict Resolution When Silence is Golden
Discussion: How important do you consider communication in a relationship? What are some ways that bad communication skills will negatively effect a relationship?
Communication Can be defined as the process of exchanging information and feelings between two people. Although most communication is focused on verbal content, much (estimated to be as high as 80%) interpersonal communication is nonverbal.
Interpersonal Communication Spouses who have fun together have fewer conflicts because they value each other’s companionship and don’t want to interrupt the positive interaction.
Conflicts In Relationships • “An argument is always about what has been made more important than the relationship.” • Hugh Prather, counselor
Conflicts In Relationships • Conflict is the interaction that results when the behavior of one person interferes with behavior of another. • Conflict is inevitable in any intimate relationship. • Conflict can be healthy and productive for a couple’s relationship. • Ignoring an issue may result in the partners becoming resentful and dissatisfied.
Sources of Conflict Behavior Cognition and perceptions Value differences Inconsistent rules Leadership ambiguity
Styles Of Conflict • Competing Style • Partners are both assertive and uncooperative • Collaborating Style • Respective partners are both assertive and cooperative • Compromising Style • Partners express their view and cooperate to find a solution
Styles Of Conflict • Avoiding Style • Partners are neither assertive nor cooperative • Accommodating Style • Respective partners are not assertive in their positions, but each accommodates to the other’s point of view. • Parallel Style • Both partners deny, ignore, and retreat from addressing a problem issue.
Principles And Techniques Of Effective Communication Make communication a priority. Establish and maintain eye contact. Ask open-ended questions. Use reflective listening. Use “I” statements. Touch. Use “soft” emotions. Avoid negative expressivity. Say positive things about your partner.
Principles And Techniques Of Effective Communication Tell your partner what you want. Stay focused on the issue. Make specific resolutions to disagreements. Give congruent messages. Share power. Keep the process of communication going.
Touch… This couple notes that, “We can’t keep our hands off each other.”
Question • The process of exchanging information and feelings between two people is called • interaction. • rapport. • evaluation. • communication.
Answer: D The process of exchanging information and feelings between two people is called communication.
Self-disclosure • Involves revealing personal information and feelings about oneself to another person. • Relationships become more stable when individuals disclose themselves: • their formative years • previous relationships (positive and negative) • experiences of elation and sadness/depression • goals (achieved and thwarted)
Honesty In Intimate Relationships • Lying is pervasive in American society. • Relationships are not immune to this. • Dating partners lie to each other (“I’ve had a couple of previous sex partners”); women lie to men (“I had an orgasm”), and men lie to women (“I’ll call”).
Personal Choices? How much should you tell your partner about your past?
Forms Of Dishonesty And Deception In addition to telling a lie, people may exaggerate the truth, pretend, conceal the truth, or withhold information. Over 95% of university students in one study reported having lied to their parents when they were living at home.
Your Opinion How important is it to your partner to know about your past? Do you want your partner to tell you (honestly) about her or his past?
Should One Partner Disclose HIV/STI To The Other? Avoiding disclosure or lying about having an STI is a serious ethical violation. Some states and cities have laws that require health care providers to advise all persons with serious sexually transmitted diseases about the importance of informing their sex or needle-sharing partner(s).
Your Opinion What do you think the penalty should be for deliberately exposing a person to an STI?
Gender Differences In Communication • Men and women focus on different content in their conversations. • Men tend to focus on activities; women, on relationships. • To men, talk is information; to women, it is interaction.
How Close Do You Want To Be? Individuals differ in their capacity for and interest in an emotionally close relationship. Individuals frequently choose partners according to an “emotional fit”—agreement about the amount of closeness they desire.
How Close Do You Want To Be? This couple notes, “We are both artists and specialize in metal sculpting so we feel it is easy to stay connected and keep our communication channels open and clear.”
Theories Applied To Relationship Communication • Symbolic Interactionism • Interactionists examine the process of communication between two actors in terms of the meanings each attaches to the actions of the other. • Social Exchange • Suggest that communication can be described as a ratio of rewards to costs.
Fighting Fair: Seven Steps In Conflict Resolution Address Recurring, Disturbing Issues Identify New Desired Behaviors Identify Perceptions to Change Summarize Your Partner’s Perspective Generate Alternative Win-Win Solutions Forgive Be Alert to Defense Mechanisms
Win-Win Relationships • Relationships in which conflict is resolved so each partner benefits from the resolution. • Win-win • Both partners get something they want. • Win-lose • Only one partner gets what they want. • Lose-lose • Both partners get nothing they want.
In Evaluating Solutions To Conflicts, It May Be Helpful To Ask These Questions: Does the solution satisfy both individuals? Is the solution specific? Does it specify exactly who is to do what, how, and when? Is the solution realistic? Does the solution prevent the problem from reoccurring? Does the solution specify what is to happen if the problem recurs?
Defense Mechanisms • Unconscious techniques that protect individuals and minimize emotional hurt. • Escapism • Simultaneous denial of and withdrawal from a problem. • Rationalization • Cognitive justifications for one’s own behavior that unconsciously conceals one’s true motives. • Projection • Occurs when one spouse unconsciously attributes individual feelings, attitudes or desires to the partner. • Displacement • Involves shifting feelings, thoughts, or behaviors from the person who evokes them onto someone else.
Question • What is the most ineffective manner of communication? • "I " statements • "you" statements • saying positive things about your partner • sharing power
Answer: B The most ineffective manner of communication is "you" statements.
Question • Effective conflict resolution is often blocked by • volatile conflict style. • defense mechanisms. • lose-lose situations. • avoidance.
Answer: B Effective conflict resolution is often blocked by defense mechanisms.
Should Parents Argue In Front Of The Children? Most therapists agree that being open is best. Children need to know relationships involve conflict and how to resolve conflicts. In the absence of such exposure, children may have an unrealistic view of relationships.