Research Paper: Improving a Personal Relationship Identifying

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[. . .] 13). Better (confirming) communication climates arise from better understanding, and appreciation of dialectics. This is so because our attitude towards dialectics determines the type of communication we use, which in turn, determines the communication climate in our interactions. Therefore, the type (form) of communication chosen is a fundamental determinant of the overall communication climate. I will limit myself to three forms (types) of communication that enhance favorable climates vis-a-vis their corresponding opposites.

Descriptive vs. Evaluative Communication

Evaluative (judgmental) communication has the tendency to make people defensive. Evaluations can be positive or negative. However, even the positives would naturally invoke defensiveness "because they carry the relationship-level meaning, that another person feels entitled to judge us" (Wood, 2011, p.205). Communication that is descriptive, on the other hand, is less concerned about judging others and what they feel, or think. It simply describes what the speaker thinks. This kind of communication would naturally foster an accepting climate, as opposed to the anxious climate brought about by evaluations.

Provisionalism vs. Certainty

Certainty is communicated through dogmatic and absolute language, which suggests that that there is "one, and only one answer, valid point-of-view, or reasonable cause of action" (Wood, 2011, p.206). Certainty does not leave room for the consideration of others' opinions. Certainty in communication takes a number of forms. Ethnocentrism is the most common of these forms. In some settings, certainty discourages teamwork (Kanu, 2011). Provisional communication provides openness to the views of others -- something that consequently makes them feel valued and appreciated. Certainty, unlike provisionalism, creates a tense, disconfirming climate, since people see "no point in talking with people whose minds are made up, and who demean any point-of-view other than their own" (Wood, 2011, p.206).

Equality vs. Superiority

Superiority is conveyed in statements such as "if you had my experience, you wouldn't suggest that" (Wood, 2011, p.209). It is natural that people, in an attempt to guard their self-esteem, would avoid communicating with those who take pleasure in belittling others. Equality, on the other hand, is communication that treats people as equivalents, and creates a climate of acceptance. In this case, people get more involved, with no fear of facing inadequate judgment. In summary, "recognizing, acknowledging, and endorsing others, is the basis of healthy communication climates" (Wood, 2011, p.209). Confirming (healthy) climates, in turn, form the basis of healthy relations. Therefore, the concepts that I consider most crucial in my efforts to not only build but also sustain a favorable communication climate include: effective communication, assertion for one's self, respect for diversity, and positive response to criticism.

Effective communication entails choosing those types of communication that fuel healthy climates. This implies identifying and subsequently avoiding aspects of superiority, certainty, and evaluation, while at the same time embracing equality and tentativeness. Additionally, accepting and understanding dialectics helps in cultivating a culture that appreciates that "the friction between contradictory needs keeps us aware of our multiple needs and the importance of fulfilling all of them" (Wood, 2011, p.210). These aspects of effective communication, I believe, could see a shift from the current tense climate to a warmer and more accepting one, characterized by improved feelings of affection and companionship. While it is important to affirm other people, it is equally important to affirm oneself (Wood, 2011). My preferences and needs are as important as those of others -- including those of my spouse. According to Wood (2011), the principles aimed at improving relations do not "only concern how we behave towards others" (p.211). They also, in one way or another, "pertain to how we should treat ourselves" (Wood, 2011, p.211). It is, therefore, important that I learn to listen to all the relevant parties, including myself. I can only get others to confirm 'me' if I, descriptively, assert my opinion. A confirming climate takes into consideration the views of all parties involved. This will not only provide an opportunity for me to state my "feelings, and preferences while simultaneously respecting different ones," but it will also ensure that there is no room for deference and aggression (Wood, 2011, p.211).

It is important to recognize that dialectics will always cause relational tension. People's responses also keep varying. These are all consequences of diversity. The most effective way of dealing with this kind of change is experimenting using a variety of responses. For instance, in order to ensure that good climates are sustained, amidst these dialectic differences, it may be more effective "to satisfy your desire for openness by sharing certain topics, while meeting your need for privacy by not discussing other topics" (Wood, 2011, p.212). Favorable communication climates are built when people understand, and respect others' communicative patterns and choices. Further, judgmental statements (criticisms) could provide the stepping stone to realizing our weakness. A positive response to criticism could begin with trying to acquire more details to establish the reasons for such criticism, then reflecting on the said reasons in order to determine their validity. How you act thereafter depends on this reflection. A behavioral change may be necessary if the criticism is found to be valid. This kind of positive response will not only ensure a healthier relationship, but also greatly help in correcting our weaknesses, together.

Part Four: Taking Action and Reflecting

I have reason to believe that I have been able to achieve some notable improvements not only in the relationship with my spouse, but in other inter-personal relations as well -- particularly at school and in my neighborhood. At first, I had difficulties trying to embrace equality and provisionalism. However, with time and much effort, I found myself able to cope. I am still working towards embracing the other three skills, but a number of people - including my husband - have noticed some improvement, this far. Given more time and effort, I remain confident that I will have achieved my intended goals.

References

Adler, R.B. & Proctor, R.F. (2013). Looking Out, Looking In (14th ed.). Boston: Cengage… [END OF PREVIEW]

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