NCSU COM 112 - COM 112 Chapter 9 (45 pages)

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COM 112 Chapter 9



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COM 112 Chapter 9

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Pages:
45
School:
North Carolina State University
Course:
Com 112 - Interpersonal Communication
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CHAPTER PREVIEW 1 2 3 4 1 Why Social Relationships Matter 2 Forming and Maintaining Social Bonds 3 Characteristics of Friendships 4 Social Relationships in the Workplace FRIENDSHIPS FORGED Centuries ago the Greek philosopher Aristotle observed that when people share salt which means enduring a difficult experience together they forge bonds of friendship that are not easily broken Such was the case for 33 men who were trapped together for 69 days in the fall of 2010 after a cave in at the San Jos mine near Copiap Chile The miners who ranged in age from 19 to 63 survived their ordeal by staying busy holding one another accountable for assigned tasks and maintaining support and optimism throughout the group According to experts who have studied the effects of shared trauma such as being lost at sea or fighting in battle together the experience of enduring and surviving such a horrific event together will join these men to one another emotionally for the rest of their lives Page 278 I magine what life would be like without friends Families and romantic relationships are important to us but friends and acquaintances contribute significantly to our well being too Sometimes we look to friends for social and emotional support At other times we seek out our friends when we just want to hang out and relax or when we need help making a decision or dealing with a problem Friends lift our spirits and remind us we re not alone in the world And occasionally they help us through traumatic experiences as the Chilean miners did for one another This chapter illustrates the importance of social relationships such as those between friends close acquaintances and co workers and focuses on how we use interpersonal communication to manage those relationships All relationships are social to some extent Because romantic and familial relationships often meet different social needs than do friendships acquaintanceships and workplace relationships we will reserve those relationships for the next chapter 1 Why Social Relationships Matter Ann Atwater and C P Ellis were never destined to become friends In the 1970s Atwater a poor African American welfare mother was a civil rights activist in Durham North Carolina where Ellis was a leader in the Ku Klux Klan a violent white supremacist organization During 10 days of community talks about school desegregation Ellis came to believe that both whites and minorities would benefit from desegregation and he and Atwater became partners in the civil rights movement They also became close personal friends Together they struggled against oppression and social stereotypes and they leaned on each other heavily for support When Ellis died of Alzheimer s disease in 2005 Atwater having lost a dear and most unlikely friend gave the eulogy at his funeral Having strong social ties with friends neighbors co workers and others improves the quality of our life in multiple ways In this section we ll see that we form social relationships because we have a strong need to belong We ll also examine some benefits of our social relationships as well as certain costs we incur by maintaining them Page 279 We Form Relationships Because We Need to Belong In his book Personal Relationships and Personal Networks 2007 communication scholar Mac Parks wrote We humans are social animals down to our very cells Nature did not make us noble loners 1He s right One reason social relationships matter is that it s in our nature to form them In fact evolutionary psychologists argue that our motivation toward social relationships is innate rather than learned 2 That fundamental human inclination to bond with others is the idea behind psychologist Roy Baumeister s theory called the need to belong 3Need to belong theory posits that each of us is born with a drive to seek form maintain and protect strong social relationships To fulfill that drive we use interpersonal communication to form social bonds with others at work at school in our neighborhoods in community and religious organizations on sports teams in online communities and in other social contexts According to Baumeister s theory each of those relationships helps us feel as though we aren t alone because we belong to a social community It is in our nature to develop social relationships The need to belong theory also suggests that for us to satisfy our drive for relationships we need social bonds that are both interactive and emotionally close For example most of us wouldn t be satisfied if we had emotionally close relationships with people with whom we never got to communicate Being cut off from social interaction can be physically and psychologically devastating That s one of the reasons why solitary confinement is considered such a harsh punishment 4 Women and men who are deployed for military service 5 and many elderly individuals who live alone 6 also experience loneliness when they don t see their families or friends for extended periods By the same token interacting only with people who have no real feelings for us would be largely unrewarding as well Imagine that you moved to a large city where you didn t know anyone Even though you d have plenty of interactions with people taxi drivers grocery store clerks an eye doctor you wouldn t encounter anyone you felt close to Those task oriented relationships would help you to fulfill various needs such as getting from one place to another and having your vision checked but they wouldn t fulfill your need to belong because they usually aren t emotionally close Deployed military personnel and elderly individuals who live alone often experience intense loneliness when they don t see their relatives or friends for extended periods of time Page 280 Many social relationships do however fulfill our needs for both interaction and emotional closeness You probably have long time friends to whom you feel very close and with whom you interact regularly Perhaps you formed some of those friendships during your childhood or adolescence Others you may have formed through school or work Still others may be friendships you formed online Significantly research indicates that online relationships can be just as emotionally close and involve just as much interaction as face to face friendships 7 Each of those social relationships can help us feel connected to others in a way that we don t experience when we can t interact with people we care about or when we don t care about the people with whom we interact The natural


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