Howard Community College Communications Essay


This assignment is a “personal journal” assignment (ie: casual writing, essay format is not necessary). This activity is linked to Chapter Eight – Understanding Interpersonal Communication. Think of an important relationship in your life such as a friend, partner, spouse, etc. Then use Knapp’s Model of Relationship Development and construct a model or diagram describing communication stages in that relationship. You can use word processing software to create the model or diagram or you can use drawing software, you can add that image within the primary response, or a 2nd file, attached below. Explain the steps that were skipped, if any. Next, apply and describe the dialectic tensions (connection vs. autonomy, openness vs. privacy, and predictability vs. novelty) in the relationship. Last, describe a strategy that you can use or have used to manage the dialectic tension(s).Save your response and attach as a word .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf file only. Thank you.

Knapp’s Stages of Relationship DevelopmentSocial Penetration Animation

Chapter Eight – Understanding
Interpersonal Communication
Prepared by Sherry Tucker and reviewed by Sheri Trivane 2017-2018
Slide One – Introduction approximately 30 seconds
In the first lesson in learning module one, we defined interpersonal communication as communication
with at least one other person. Again, dyadic communication is communication between just two
people. However, interpersonal communication can include more than two people. For example, a
group of friends can have an interpersonal relationship. In that same module we briefly defined
impersonal communication as people who communicate for practical purposes. However, this chapter
focuses specifically on people who are in unique relationships such as friends, family, and romantic
Slide Two – How We Choose Relational Partners approximately 2 ½ minutes
How do we select lovers? Some cultures do not allow individuals to select their future spouse. Either
the head of the household or the leader of the group negotiates the marriage arrangements. But some
of us have the freedom to love and marry whomever we want. People are looking for love everywhere.
There are online dating sites and reality television shows helping people to get together. The
Understanding Human Communication textbook explains that we evaluate potential relationship
The authors provide the following criteria we use when evaluating a potential dating partner.
The person is physically attractive. On the television show, Married at First Sight: Second Chances,
episode one: So Many Daters So Little Time, the female singles described the physical characteristics
that they like in the male who is seeking a mate. They made the following comments, “He has a really
gorgeous smile”, “He’s everything I like”, and “He has light hair, light eyes and he’s tall”.
The next criterion is, we have a lot in common. This is the similarity rule. Maya, an event manager, on
Married at First Sight explains why she and the young man are a good match. “We are both outgoing,
we both like to have fun, we both are in the place in our life that we want to settle down.”
Additional reasons include: we balance or complement each other. The person likes and appreciates
me and I admire the person’s abilities. Also, the person opens up or self-discloses to me. Selfdisclosure is one way that we learn who the other person is, and find out our similarities and
differences. Another reason is, I see the person frequently and last, the relationship is rewarding. We
use the social exchange theory to determine whether or not the relationship is beneficial. To use the
social exchange theory, we make a list of the benefits or rewards and of the costs of being in a
relationship with that person. If the benefits outweigh the costs, then we will see a potential mate.
It’s a good idea to evaluate others in the early stage of a relationship. However, we should continue to
monitor our relationship through communication.
Slide Three – Types of Interpersonal Relationships – Friendship 1 1/2 minutes
We have different types of friends and some of our friendships grow or diminish over time. The
Understanding Human Communication textbook explains that friendship developments and the
meaning of friendship differs according to our age. For example, as youth we typically become friends
due to proximity and we want someone to play with. However, once we become teenagers and young
adults, friendships become more serious and important to us. The authors also point out that we might
only be friends with some on a short-term basis, while we are friends with others for a lifetime. Also, we
might disclose or share more personal information and frequently contact certain friends. Our textbook
claims that we create intimacy with those that we share personal information and with those who we
share activities with. Culturally speaking, our text points out that if we are from a low context culture
we might “express our feelings or liking towards another person out loud”. However, the authors note
that friends from high context cultures would prefer to “express themselves indirectly by doing favors”.
So, friendships are different depending on our age, behavior and culture.
Slide Four – Types of Interpersonal Relationships – Family – approximately 1 1/2 minutes
Family relationships are another type of interpersonal relationship. We have all types of families. Some
families are traditional with parents and children like on the show Malcolm in the Middle or Family Ties,
while other families are blended like The Brady Bunch. Additionally, we have families with one parent
like the Von Trapp family in the Sound of Music. We also have extended families with grandparents or
aunts and uncles like the Addams Family and Everybody Loves Raymond. There are nontraditional
families like in the movie The Kids are All Right and Life as We Know it. There are lots of family
structures and we learn social norms and how to communicate within the family. Harvard University
Professor Martha Minow is quoted in the Human Communication textbook, that a family are people
who “share affection and resources”. Not all members living in the household have to be biologically
related in order for them to be a family. For example, none of the brothers in the movie Four Brothers
are related. They were all adopted and raised by the same woman.
We learn how to communicate within the family. We start by mimicking nonverbal cues as babies and
then we begin repeating words as toddlers. The Understanding Human Communication textbook states
that, “we learn how to behave from our parents” and “how to manage our emotions”. Additionally, the
authors explain that our problem-solving orientation is linked to our parents. Either they allowed us to
engage in conversation to address the problem or they required us to conform to the rules.
Slide Five – Romantic Partners – approximately 1 minute
Intimate relationships, or romantic partners, share another level of interpersonal relationships. Intimacy
requires that we express ourselves personally through physical contact, shared experiences, intellectual
sharing, and emotional disclosures. According to the Human Communication textbook, men and
women differ in their intimacy styles. Men display acts of intimacy by doing things for others and
spending time with them, while women prefer personal talk. The authors add that men and women
may view sexual intimacy differently. For example, men view sex as a road to intimacy; however women
see sex as an expression of intimacy. Some relationships include love languages to demonstrate
intimacy. Saying affirming words, spending quality time, performing acts of service, giving gifts and
engaging in physical touch are examples of love language.
Slide Six – Stages of Romantic Relationships – approximately 2 minutes
The authors of Understanding Human Communication use Communication scholar Mark Knapp’s
Development model to explain how relationships form, grow and possibly dissolve. This model uses five
stages to grow and five stages to dissolve.
The partners begin with the initiating stage (first meeting), move to the experimenting stage where we
get to know more about one another through small talk. We can see an example of the initiation stage
in the movie Hitch between Will Smith’s character and Eva Mendez’s character. During the
experimenting stage couples are determining whether or not they should pursue a relationship. Then
they intensify with the expression of intense emotions, integration is next where we see couples starting
to share resources and combine their lives. Lastly, during bonding, a significant commitment will be
expressed, for example, with a wedding ceremony.
Just as relationships go through stages to grow, they also go through stages as they come apart. First,
we start to see differentiating where couples will begin to figure out how they are different from one
another, then circumscribing when communication and time spent together decreases. If this continues
the relationship will begin to stagnate, or fall back on old, familiar ways. Next couples may start avoiding
one another, until they finally decide to terminate the relationship by separating themselves and their
lives from one another.
Partners can change the direction their relationship is heading. Through communication of different
types, along with taking risks and being vulnerable, couples can maintain healthy long term
We do not always go through the stages in Knapp’s model in sequential order. Some relationships skip a
stage or they might even move around the model as characters do in the movies When Harry Met Sally
and Love Jones.
Slide Seven – Communication Patterns in Relationships – approximately 2 ½ minutes
Experts see communication patterns in relationships. These patterns are content and relational
messages, meta-communication and self-disclosure. Let’s start with content-relational dimension.
Content messages focus on the subject being discussed, while relational messages make a statement
about the party’s relationship. In Joseph Devito’s textbook, Essentials of Human Communication, there
is an example of a father explaining to his son that he is showing affinity and immediacy by reading to
him. The story is the content message. According to the textbook, affinity, respect, immediacy and
control are relational messages.
Another communication pattern found in relationships is meta-communication. Meta-communication is
a message that refers to another message. Your textbook provides the following examples. “It sounds
like you are angry at me.” or “I appreciate how honest you have been.” Finally, self-disclosure is
intentionally sharing information about our self to another person. There are two different models that
explain self-disclosure: Social Penetration and Johari Window. Social Penetration refers to the variety
of topics and the depth of explanation of those topics that you share with another person. However,
Johari’s Window explains that we have four parts of our self-concept. Johari Window uses a metaphor
of window panes and each part of our self is a different window pane. Johari’s Window has four
window panes: open, blind, hidden and unknown. Open window is the information that you know
about yourself and other people know about you. For example, you like to help people. Blind window is
the information that you do not know about yourself. For example, you tell really awful jokes. Hidden
information is what you don’t want others to know about you. For example, you tend to stretch the
truth. Last, unknown information is information that no one knows about you including you. According
to Johari’s Window, if we are truly open to criticism and feel comfortable with our relational partner,
our open window will be larger than our blind or hidden windows. However, if we do not listen to
relational partner our blind window will most likely be larger than open. If we do not trust our relational
partner than our hidden window will be larger than open.
Slide Eight – Characteristics of Effective Self-Disclosure – approximately 1 minute
In relationships there is a necessary amount of self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is tricky, so it is a good
ideal to ask yourself several questions before self-disclosing to ensure that your self-disclosure is
1. Is the other person important to you?
2. Is the disclosure appropriate? This might depend on the cultural context.
3. Is the risk of disclosing reasonable? Will you be betrayed after you disclose?
4. Is the disclosure relevant to the situation at hand?
5. Is the disclosure reciprocated? Does the other person disclose information to you that is similar?
6. Will the effect be constructive?
7. Is the self-disclosure clear and understandable?
Asking yourself these questions before you self-disclosure can protect you from disappointment and
Slide Nine – Dialectical Perspective of Interpersonal Relationships – approximately 2 ½
Interpersonal relationships experience opposing tensions called “Dialectical Perspectives”. These
tensions operate on a continuum. The authors mention three dialectic perspectives: connection vs.
autonomy, openness vs. privacy and predictability vs. novelty. Let’s look at each tension. First,
connection vs. autonomy is the degree that we want to spend time with another person. Some people
like to spend all of their time or most of their time with their relational partner. However, others like to
have some freedom to spend time without their relational partner. Here is an example of connection. A
couple that works together every day and even spend their time together during their lunch break. An
autonomy example can be found in a Friends video clip on Youtube, Rachel explains to Ross that she
wants to keep her professional life separate from their relationship. Another example, is when a couple
goes on separate vacations. Openness vs. privacy is the amount of information that you share with your
partner. Some couples discuss everything from their feelings, activities, ideas, etc. However, some
couples keep information private from the relational partner. For example, in the Allstate Insurance
commercial All Alone, the father claims that he does not tell the mother when he gets a safe driving
bonus check from Allstate and that he has a putter that she doesn’t know about. Predictability vs.
novelty is the difference between routines in your relationship vs. trying new things. It’s great to be
able to plan what you are going to do, but our relationships can become boring if we do not change
once in a while. Consider going to a new or different restaurants or try doing something different.
There are several strategies for managing dialectical tensions, some are healthier than others. The
Understanding Human Communication textbook identifies the following nine strategies.
1. Denial – Some couples deny that a problem exist.
2. Disorientation – Couples that are overwhelmed.
3. Selection – Paying attention to one end of the dialectic tension and ignoring the other.
Alternation – Couples alternate the two ends of the dialectic tension.
Polarization – Couples take opposite stances in the dialectic tension.
Segmentation – Couples compartmentalize different areas of the relationship.
Moderation – Couples compromise.
Reframing – Couples look at the dialectic tension in a different way and redefine them.
Reaffirmation – Couples accept that the dialectic tension is a part of the relationship.
Maintaining relationships has challenges and we have to consider the best strategy to use.
Slide Ten – Lies and Evasions – approximately 2 minutes
Communication in relationships does involve lies. Lies are told for different reasons, and forgiving a lie is
often difficult, but it is necessary if one wants to maintain a positive relationship. The Understanding
Human Communication textbook distinguishes between three types of lies: altruistic, evasions and selfserving lies. The Understanding Human Communication authors claim, “Altruistic lies are viewed as
harmless, polite and meant to protect or preserve another person’s feelings. However, self-serving lies
are attempts to manipulate the other to achieve a goal and evasions are vague statements to protect
the other.” You might be confused between an altruistic lie and an evasion. An example of altruistic lie
is when you tell someone that you like their hairstyle, when you really don’t. On the other hand an
example of evasion, is when you do not clearly say whether you do or do not like someone’s hairstyle.
For example, if you ask a friend if they like your new haircut, they might be evasive and respond “it’s
interesting”. You can find an evasive example in the movie Liar Liar when actor Jim Carey is probed by
one of the employees whether or not her hair is “extreme” and he responds “…that’s the thing
nowadays.” The textbook outlines three different methods to evade: 1) equivocation, 2) hinting and 3)
concealment. In chapter four of the Understanding Human Communication textbook, we discuss
equivocation, that words or phrases can have more than one meaning. The evasive example above is
equivocation. As example of hinting is to either offer someone chewing gum if their breath smells or to
cover your nose. Last, I found an example of concealment in an October 2013 Forbes magazine article.
In the article, the author claims that during a job interview an applicant did not offer that he/she was
fired from their previous job. Review chapter seven in the Understanding Human Communication
textbook to see examples and reasons why we tell lies.

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