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FSU FAD 2230 - Chapter 6: Communication, Conflict, and Power in Our Relationship

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Chapter 6: Communication, Conflict, and Power in Our RelationshipThe Importance of Communication• Communication: an interactive process, using symbols like words and gestures to both send and receive messageso Communication is a transaction: all human behavior is a continuous exchange, and partners are simultaneously senders and receivers of messageso Communication is a process: it is dynamic and always changing, and culture, race, ethnicity, and sex are criticalo Communication includes co-construction of meanings: each partner speaks a language and interprets meaning in a way acquired from his or her family of orientationo Communication uses symbols: to construct meanings or definitions; can be verbal or nonverbal• Communication as an interactive transaction is the micro-level aspect of the processThe Cultural Context of Communication: Embracing Difference• Race, Ethnicity, and Communicationo Example: linguists documented differences in Standard American English (SAE) (spoken by whites and some blacks) and African American English (AAE) (spoken by blacks). Listeners can determine the race of a speaker just from their speech. This can be used to discriminate against blacks.o Nonverbal messages also vary between racial and ethnic groups. Ex. A Latin American kid seems zoned out because he doesn’t make eye contact with the teacher, but in his culture you avoid making eye contact with authority figures.• Social Class and Communicationo Basil Bernstein and William Labov studied linguistics and social class Ex. Members of the working class speak less SAE and use “like” or “but” more compared to the middle and upper class They also realized people “break code” and can weave out of SAE according to the audience they are speaking to (such as Obama does is speeches) • Cultural Differenceso Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: language shapes our culture, and culture shapes our language Ex. Alaskans have many different words for “snow,” people from Florida do not because it is not a part of their daily lives Current Ex. technology has provided new terms: “cell phone” and “PC” also ADD and gifted gave labels to people who were considered “disrupted” or “smart”o Cultural orientations Individual vs. Collectivist Cultures: Individualists value personal achievement and independence (like the US) while collectivists focus on needs of a group (like China) High vs. Low context Cultures: High-context focuses on indirect and nonverbal communication (mostly collectivist cultures) while low-context is more direct communication (like Germany) Masculine vs. Feminine Cultures: Masculine cultures are when men are more rigid and women are less powerful, while feminine cultures see compromise and negotiation as good communication Centralized vs. Decentralized Power: Centralized power is in the hands of few, while decentralized power is evenly distributed and average people participate High vs. Low Ambiguity: Low ambiguity has clear cut rules for behavior and communication, while high ambiguity minimizes importance of strict rules about relationships/ communication Short-term vs. Long-term Time Orientation: Short-term focuses on spending rather than saving (emphasize on social status), while long-term puts emphasis on the future (thrift and perseverance)Types of Communication• Listening: process of giving thoughtful attention to what we hearo Is a skill that requires receiving the message, decoding what the speaker is saying, understanding and remembering the message for a period of time, evaluating the message, and finally responding (verbal or nonverbal)o Poor listening is the heart of communication problemso Active listening: extremely attentive listening where the listener has good eye contact and body language, and encourages the other person to continue talkingo Summed up by Beebe- a good listener:  Stops Looks Listens Asks questions Reflects by paraphrasing• Verbal Communication: the spoken exchange of thoughts, feelings or messages.o Involves context of words, tone, and expressions usedo Barriers to understanding verbal communication: Bypassing: it is easy to misunderstand when one word has several meanings Lack of precision: mistaking one work or phrase for another (“literally” for “figuratively” or “I could care less” for “I could not care less”) Overgeneralizing: tendency to make sweeping generalizations (“you’re never ready on time” or “you’re always doing that”) Static Evaluations: statements that do not allow for change (“you’ve always been the wild one, right?” or “pregnant?! Thought you didn’t like children.”) Polarization: speaking in extremes and ignore the middle ground (“it’s all your fault” or “I didn’t do it”) Biased language: using words that bias race, ethnicity, sex, religion, or cultures. This language can be found offensive to otherso Jack Gibb studied people who gave a supportive environment and others who created a defensive one, in conversationo Ways to make an environment more supportive: Describe your own feelings rather than evaluating the behavior of others: using the word “I” Solve problems rather than try to control others: open-ended questions Be genuine rather than manipulative: have an honest interest in others Empathize rather than remain detached: the ability to understand ones feelings and predict their emotional response Be flexible rather than rigid: voice opinion nicely “The way I see it is…” Present yourself as equal rather than superior: communicate as equals• Nonverbal Communication: communicating without words, by using gestures, expressions, and body language.o We use nonverbal communication more than verbal, but we may not be conscious of ito Nonverbal communications is often more believable than verbal because it’s more difficult to falsify, but it is also easily misunderstood o Ex. of nonverbal communication: the degree of personal space we are comfortable with (differs in intimate relationships, social relationships, and non-personal relationships), but varies among racial and ethnic groups• Electronic Communication: how we “talk” using written words dailyo Baron: How reliance on electronic written words are changing communication: Informality in the new norm: writing more informally; using slang Our writing influences our speech: way we communicate


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