Culture

Interpersonal Communication: Journal Entries 11 – 14

Journal Assignment # 11: 4 topics in communication

Movie: How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days

The movie “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” is a comedy about the relationships between men and women and the ability women seem to have to “kill” a relationship. I will review how this movie demonstrates why we form relationships (text, pg. 284), the developmental model of relational stages (text, pg. 293), lying (text, pg. 317), and the degrees of self-disclosure & the guidelines for self-disclosure (text, pgs. 307 & 313).

First, this movie illustrates why we form relationships in the scene where Andie scopes out a bar looking for a potential “love” to use in her story concept. As Andie and her friends scan the bar they check out a well dressed man in a suit. This indicates attraction based on appearance (pg. 284) being attracted to people who you identify with as having similarities and are complementary to yourself (pg. 285). Another example of these concepts is when Benjamin comes into the bar, and the girls see him. They think he’s ‘yummie’, and his physical attractiveness was the primary driving factor of Andie going over to talk to him.

The scene where Benjamin strikes a bet with two female co-workers, Spears and Green, drills down into these key points of attraction. They make a deal with him that he can have the account if he can make a woman fall in love with him before the big diamond event which is just ten days away. As the two women scan the bar looking for the unsuspecting ‘victim’ of this bet they point out women who are unattractive, and odd – which shows their acknowledgement that mutual attraction based on appearance and similarities is important in the building of a successful relationship. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have worked as hard to find someone “unlikely” until they stumbled across Andie who had a deal of her own.

Andie first has Ben falling for her, and then she starts employing destructive behaviors to the relationship. The affect is a demonstration of developmental models in a relationship. The initiating stage is illustrated when they flirt after running into each other in the bar. They quip back and forth in a sexy way establishing their initial contact. Experimenting is represented by Andie’s slyly leaving her purse at his place with tickets to the Final Four Championship. She did so looking for common ground to aid in her attractiveness level with Ben. It is also a chance to prove she’s worth being with, which is vital to her story. She can’t just chase away any guy, it has to be a guy who really wants her. Intensifying and integrating happen pretty fast. They move quickly into a playful relationship and the scene where they are in “couples therapy” after just a week of dating proves undeniably that they intensified quickly. Integrating was seen when she moved her things into his place, and bonding when she gave him a shirt that matched hers and “their” dogs. Differentiating is seen when Ben gets flustered and fed up with Andie after “their” dog pees on his card table and she treats him like a mom would during his poker game. He establishes himself as separate from the relationship, reconsidering only after the guys convince him that the bet is worth it. Circumscribing and stagnating isn’t as apparent though there in the undertones when Ben starts realizing that this isn’t the Andie he met, and wanted that person back. His hopes of an unrealized dream were being crushed by her odd behaviors. After it all comes out that they had both been using each other there was avoidance and termination of the relationship. In the end, because this is a love story, duh, they get back together again and work through their issues.

This whole story centers around the destructiveness of lying in a relationship. The text states (pg. 321) that lying threatens relationships and many relationships end based on the discovery of a prominent lie. True to the discussion, Andie and Ben had successfully fallen in love, or as deemed so by his boss, but after finding out that the whole relationship was centered around this bet, which is not directly the “truth” everything falls apart. Trust is broken and they part ways both devastated.

In a side story, there is a character who’s story with men is the whole concept behind the movie. She just doesn’t understand what it is that she does that chases men away so consistently. She thinks that she’s doing all the right things but then brings up the point that she told him that she loved him after just a few days. The other girls, aware of this relationship faux pas are a gasp. They know that this is a prime example of both the degrees of self-disclosure and most importantly a violation of the guidelines for self-disclosure in a new relationship. She jumped to the degree of sharing her feelings, and violated the guidelines of the amount and type of appropriate disclosure. The timing was off (far too early in a normal relationship to disclosure that level of information), the risk was unreasonable (she risked everything without knowing that her partner was “trustworthy and supportive” (pg. 315)) and the disclosure was unreciprocated (as he did not immediately feel the same way and did not respond in kind).

 

Journal Assignment # 12: My Empathic Listening Behavior

Since taking this class I have tried to be far more aware of my empathic listening skills and behaviors. I find that I employ most all of the listening responses in my style. This could be because I have taken other classes on effective communication and conversation styles. I have several friends who talk to me, and although I have never really thought about it, I imagine I hear so many stories from them because I have managed to become a good listener for the most part. I first try to listen to the whole story. I employ prompting to guide them in places where the story lags, but information is still forthcoming. I will often combine questioning with paraphrasing… for instance I might say “Are you telling me (questioning) that P defined your relationship as… (insert paraphrasing here)?” This helps because the questioning and paraphrasing prompts my friend to continue detailing the story and her feelings, and correcting my understanding if I was wrong. Supporting is something every good friend does for another. You identify with the person in that you offer your appreciation, condolences or agreement as regards the situation. Supporting statements tell your friend that they have been “heard”, understood, and validated, whether or not you agree with them.

The assignment asks for what we should do more of, but I’m hoping you’ll accept what I think I should do less of. (The responses noted above are what I had been previously trying to do more of, and now feel pretty solid on.) What I had been trying to stay away from, or use the methods a bit less, are analyzing, advising and judging. I think these responses have their place, but they should follow after you have made sure you’re fully aware of what the other person is trying to communicate to you and that they are actually looking for input by means of your analysis, advisement or judgment. We all have heard the saying she is “quick to judge”. Normally I think I am good at analyzing the situation, my friends will even tell me that I analyze too much at times, though that’s usually about myself.

A good example of how I have employed these responses was when my friend O recently told me about her ‘DTR’ (Define the Relationship) talk. I actively listened prompting (and how did that make you feel…?) her and questioning (what did he say then…?) to get the full story, then I paraphrased what I understood and offered support. Basically since they couldn’t agree on whether dating or seeing someone was more exclusive he had (somewhat in jest) defined them as having gone from “shagging” to now “mad tapping that ass”. After offering support that a definition is better than nothing and (analyzed) he’s just being an ass because he adores her and she knows it. I advised that she let him know if she is uncomfortable at all with the definition, but that I (judgment) didn’t think the title was demeaning based on their obviously blossoming relationship.

Journal Assignment #13
Communication Climate: Otherwise Known as “Life with B”

My communication climate review is of my relationship with my boyfriend B. I would say that I’m pretty proud of our communication styles and the resulting climate… sunny with only fleeting clouds at moments. I will review first what principles from Gibbs Categories of Defensive and Supportive climates we apply well, and then what ones we could work on polishing up a bit more.

First, I’d have to compliment B when it comes to control versus problem orientation. We work together and he has a more dominate role even though we’re on the same “level”. While he could exert control and use his job as an excuse for carrying the behavior over into our personal relationship in a “I can’t help it” kind of way. For example, he is a mild obsessive compulsive, and can’t stand disorder in his home. I on the other hand am far more laid back and unconcerned with little details of neatness. Instead of saying “Clean it up, it’s my place” when I do something that causes his tick, he’ll say something endearing like, “Ang, you know how that gets to me, when you get a minute could you, please…?” I am so much more aware and accommodating since he’s nice about it and reminds me, but doesn’t demand. I do the same for him, and am pleasant in my requests and offer problems for mutual solution.

Another thing we’re good at is strategy versus spontaneity. For example, we’re both in Orlando for a conference, and I have a friend from Jacksonville as well as my cousin who lives about 3 ½ hours south of here that I’d like to see. His co-workers made plans to go to a theme park and we agreed before arrangements were made to meet up with Mark and Nikki. B and I were able to talk about what we wanted honestly and with forthrightness, instead of posing it in a strategic manner. I could have said I wouldn’t want to spend all day on my feet in the smoldering sun, thereby getting out of the plans for the theme park and opening the way for my plans, but instead we chatted about it and came up with a mutual decision. Turns out we both didn’t really want to stand in the sun this weekend after all the standing on our feet we’ve done even to this point! I feel like this honesty builds trust and respect in the relationship, you never have to waste time to stop and second guess one another’s intentions.

We could use a little improvement in the neutral versus empathy category. For instance, last night I was so proud when I completed this assignment, for the first time, at nine pm. I had worked hard on it, buying out time from my hectic convention. Then when I went to upload the document, because of a snafu with Word (and you’d better believe I’m going to talk to them about fixing that document recovery experience!!) I lost all the change since I had opened the document and started three hours earlier. He came to assist and console me, but his response was, “well, you never make that mistake twice” and “it happens to everybody” and “you can still make it up in time, it’ll be much faster to redo it the second time”. Although he was right on all counts, those just weren’t the things I wanted to hear. After giving up with trying to recover my lost changes (on the temporary file that disappeared when I closed Word) including some time downloading, installing undelete tools, we walked together to a press party. I related this Gibb’s category to him, and explained how I had always felt that way, but never knew how to explain that his “positive support” just wasn’t really helpful to me, and instead would usually put me in a crummier mood because I would just want to sulk for a little while, and then be cheered up. It was a nice bonding moment brought to us in part by this class and our sponsor Gibb’s. 😉

The last thing I wanted to comment on is on how he teases me about “not having any common sense”. My dad would say the same to me “You’ve got the book smarts, but not a lick of common sense, girl!” This is an example of evaluation versus description. It’s just a minor thing to me, though, and most of the time he is more descriptive, laughingly adding how whatever the most current incidence is has become just more evidence in the building case against me. 🙂

 

Journal Assignment #14
Communication Consultant: B and his ex-girlfriend

This is a story about “the other” B and his ex-girlfriend M. This story is real, and happened just about the middle of the quarter, in April I think. B and M used to date in college, and were each other’s first loves. After three years together, graduation sent them to separate sides of the country, and explicitly dissolved their relationship into a friendship. They continued to talk on a regular basis, but both would leave out details in their lives about other people. B’s cover up however was more deceitful as he hid a relationship with M’s ex-best friend and roommate from college from her for more than a year. (So much drama!) When all the cards finally fell and the deceptions and denial were uncovered, I happened to be there, and I offered assistance (it was the weirdest thing to be a informal mediator but literally I was on the couch in the room when it all went down).

First, I will identify that M passive-aggressive (acting like she didn’t care one minute, and pissed off and raging the next) and had been reacting to the situation in a non-intimate / non-aggressive (after she flew home she completely withdrew and passively refused to deal with it) after the terrible argument away. There were disconfirming (not returning emails within reasonable time, feeling like she was unimportant and blown off, and ambiguous responses) messages from B that exacerbated her defense mechanisms leading to rationalization and regression.

In this situation B and got a chance to confer while she was on the phone briefly, my advice to him had been from the crucial conversations class I took at work. “If you keep coming to the same place, or keep getting stuck, that is a red flag that there is a crucial conversation that you aren’t having.” I advised that he should be honest about how he felt (that they’re not going to get back together at some point in the future, that he’s moved on over the past year, that he was dishonest because he didn’t want to lose her friendship, and he wants to continue to be best friends but can’t give as much (attention) as he used to, now that he’s in the “real world” and building new relationships and has a girlfriend. Next I said he needed to have her do the same, strip away the carefulness and dishonesty based on built up distrust and get real. Find out what she wants and needs, what problems she can identify from her perspective. After both perspectives were out in the open then they needed to set time at a later date to talk again, as nothing productive could come out of continuing the discussion that night (especially since it was nearly 4 in the morning!). The next day they met for lunch and continued my advice. They discussed each point of view of the problem and their needs, and considering each other. After having all the emotions out from the night prior, and a clear summary of the real issues, they were prepared to look for solutions to the overall problem – what relationship they were going to pursue and what expectations would be appropriate. While the conversation and the weekend ended with both of them alive all be it with raw nerves, I encouraged B to make sure he followed up and continue checking in on how he was doing meeting her expectations to prevent another fire. Things have been rough for both of them. M continues to feel like she’s not getting the attention she needs, and B continues to be unfettered by those needs, and continues to question their relationship.

In the end the summary is that my suggestions to B to aid in the situation were nearly ripped right out of the pages our text, including use of the clear message format in step one. I feel proud that my advice has been validated as legitimate now that we’ve covered this material and what I advised was pretty well in line with the text. In the end I think what is important to note is that the relationship is key to considering what tactic to take. You may not want to repair and rebuild the relationship that has been damaged, and if so that would affect the end result you strive for.

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