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{March 14, 2008}   communication saves relationships

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There was an article which i found quite intresting in the newspaper the other day. It addresses the issue of the importance of communication in a relationship. The writer says that there are basically four viewpoints that we should avoid having when communicating with the other party in order to avoid a cycle of dissagreement. They are as follows

1) Distorted reality viewpoint/ Validation viewpoint

This means that everyone sees things from their own perspective and may therefore become unreasonable in our arguments. We are not able to view things from the other person’s point of view. According to Bacon’s 4 idols that distorts communication, viewing things according to what we know is known as idols of the cave. We have limited access to knowledge and thus, it limits our understanding on many issues. Validation viewpoint talks about our ability to filter credible information that goes against our beliefs and knowledge. Thus, we are not open to information which proves our beliefs wrong. If we choose to be less accepting to the other person’s point of view, we may encounter miscommunication and even invite a conflict. This also goes against the Psychological Perspective of communication which emphasises that effective communication is achieved with the ‘meeting of the minds’. This means that we should be able to comprehend what the other person is saying in order for us to have effective communication.

Accuser viewpoint

This is the stand that everyone usually takes in a conflict. People tend to push the blame when things go wrong. This may escalate into a quarrel. According to the 10 stages of a relationship by Knapp’s model of relational development , this tendency to push the blame is known as Negative Identity Management. By doing so, we fail to solve the problem because we are diffusing it into other issues. Conflicts usually arise due to difference in perception, lack of communication, different motivations and failure to identify and solve a problem without diffusing into another issue.

Excuser Viewpoint

We tend to practice self-serving bias by providing an excuse for anything that we do wrong. However, we fail to look at the circumstances or excuses when someone else does the same mistake. This behavior may irritate the other person. Afterall who likes to experience biasness against themselves? According to the Equity Theory, the under-benifiting person will be unhappy. In this case, the under-benifiting person would be the one who is experiencing biasness against him/her. Such behavior invites conflict which can be solved if people practice effective communication. When communicating, we should also avoid using language that is sarcastic or ambiguous. Clear and simple language should be used to avoid confusion. Words that are ambiguous may be taken in the wrong manner and may thus backfire. People may misinterpret such words and the conflict may escalate.

When faced with a problem, we also should not postpone it or avoid it by changing the subject. By doing so, we are circumscribing. Circumscribing is a stage in the Knapps’ model of relational development, which is experienced when people rather not talk about certain issues regarding their relationship. This may lead to stagnation in the relationship because avoiding an issue does not solve it.

We should also be aware of the non-verbal messages that we are sending to the other person while communicating with them. Affect Display is one way in which we can send positive/negative impressions about ourselves. Affect display is the way we sit, where we place our hands and what we do while we are speaking. Usually, we are not aware of the message we are sending through affect display. However, it is one of the most effective way in which an observer determines our interest level and sincerity about what we are saying. thus, the judge our credibility through affect display. We  should sit upright and not fold our arms or cross our legs when solving a conflict. Slouching indicates lack of interest and sincerity. Folding of arms and crossing of legs shows our pride and inability to open up to suggestions and compromise.

Haptics is extremely important in a relationship. Touch can be used to show love, concern and comfort. It is the most comforting thing a person can experience. Problems seem lighter when you get a warm hug from someone. Such actions may be so effective that it can solve the conflict without use of words. Touch, i believe is the most powerful tool in communication. From a baby to the elderly, touch is the most comforting experience that has no cultural or language barrier.

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