Letter of AdviceMonica CappellettiCOM 200: Interpersonal CommunicationProfessor Heather Gilmore-DooleyMarch 12, 2019 ‹Letter of adviceDear Alejandra and Pablo,‹I wanted to congratulate you both on your engagement. I am honored to have the privilege of accompanying the both of you through this new life changing journey. I just recently completed a course study on the subject of Interpersonal Communication and I am thrilled to share what I have learned. I can say that this information will greatly enhance and strengthen your relationship. Being engaged is an important step in your life’s and hopefully will lead to marriage.
When two people choose to join their life’s, it is as an equal partnership that is comprised of trust and respect for each other. No relationship is free of conflict, but if we practice to effectively communicate with each other it will only strengthen the bond between the two of you. If the both of you follow the advice I am going to give you I know you will have a relationship that will be happy and full of understanding.
I want to explain the different conflict barriers you might come across in your relationship and the importance of knowing how to recognize and manage them. I will also share how to develop your self-concept to help strengthen your relationship. In addition, I want to show you how self-disclosure can enhance your relationship and help strengthen the bond between the two of you. Finally, I want to share some ideas on how to manage conflict that can be influenced by gender and culture during the course of your relationship.Interpersonal Communication and Its Barriers‹You both might be wondering what is interpersonal communication? Well, it is a unique way we choose to communicate with others, by either utilizing a face to face interaction or through the different digital channels. Communication skills are learned through knowledge, motivation, and the skill that is earned through practice. (Bevan & Sole, 2014). Marriage is an art form that requires an open communication mindset. The both of you will need to discover how to properly communicate by learning to get to know each other. Real love, many of them believed, came about only as a result of a process in which the couple came to know one another deeply. (Shumway, D. 2003). Sometimes you might feel overwhelmed and your bond will be tested with the constraints of everyday challenges. I want you to know this is normal and transitioning to marriage will be something new to the both of you. So first I will show you how to recognize and overcome any communication barriers. Trust me not only do I know this from the course I just took but because when my ex-husband and I first got married we had a difficult time communicating with each other. We were unable to express and communicate our feelings and this caused for our relationship to struggle. Problem talk does not only involve constructing problems but also effacing them. (Muntigl, P. July 29, 2004). You will learn to analyze and understand what caused the communication barrier. This will help enhance and improve your communication skills.‹You will be faced with many challenges during the different stages of your relationship. It is important to understand the types of barriers and together learn to overcome them. Partners work together and communicate in the face of these challenges is what will ultimately make or break their relationship. (Bevan & Sole, 2014). It is important for the both of you to know how emotions influence the way you react to conflict. Bevan and Sole (2014) refer to these barriers as The Four Horsemen of Apocolypse, and their names are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. One common barrier we fall prey to is criticism. Have you ever found yourselves saying I told you it would happen ? You just don’t get it . If so, then this is one form of a barrier that will cause emotional harm and does not produce a positive outcome to an effective communication. We can avoid this by being mindful of the word choices we want to use. I always recommend before saying a word to pause, reflect and think. For ex. If we pause and allow that time to absorb what you just heard, then we are able to reflect on how this makes us feel. Finally, if we think on how the other person will feel when you say a certain phrase. It will help ensure you are not causing irreparable damage to your relationship as well as your partners self-esteem. If the both you keep in mind how what you say and how you say will make the other person feel, then the both of you will have a more enduring bond.Understanding Emotional Intelligence and Change Self ConceptSecond, you need to understand and know how to change your self-concept. Part of being and effective communicator is to be comfortable with each other and your own self. Social scientists use many terms such as self-concept, self-image, and self-esteem to describe your “self.” (Bevan & Sole, 2014). To understand self-concept, you need to know the factors that have influenced and developed your self-concept, self-image and self-esteem. It started the moment you were born and every interaction you experienced up until this day has helped influence who you are and how you feel about yourselves.Your self-concept is learned; it is organized, it is dynamic, and it is changeable over time (Purkey, 1988). You might remember a time as a child when you were told something that made you feel ashamed or embarrassed. Those feelings reflect how your experiences have influenced your self-concept. Therefore, it is important to know ourselves first before we can understand someone else. Since a low self-concept can eventually cause irreparable damage and take a toll on your relationship. Once you are able to recognize and understand what defined and influenced your self-concept, in time, and if needed with proper counseling, you will be able to accept or reject what others say about you. Now that you are both able to understand how your self-concept was influenced and how to improve your own views of your self. It is time to also understand emotional intelligence, which involves the ability to monitor, regulate, and discriminate among your own and your partner’s feelings in order to guide your thoughts and actions (Salovey & Mayer, 1990). Emotional intelligence involves the ability to show empathy with our words and actions. We can demonstrate empathy by engaging in active-emphatic listening (AEL), that reflects how focused and interested you are to what your partner is saying, and the other person sees it. There are three stages to be an active-emphatic; the first one is the sensing stage, which shows to the other person we are listening and paying attention. The second one is the processing stage, which demonstrates you are absorbing the information when you ask questions regarding the topic the other person gives you. The third one is the response stage, reflects through verbal (which can be done by asking questions or repeating back what you just heard) and non-verbal (which your body language is, this can happen anytime you smile, cross your arms or just having eye contact) actions how we are listening and interested in the information. Now, empathy doesn’t only take place in that manner you can show empathy by demonstrating support towards each other. Another piece of advice is to always remember to place each other in the other person’s shoes. Since this will ensure you are able to see the other person’s perspective and help the both of you be more understanding towards each other. If you both are truthful, honest and always share your thoughts and feelings to each other, both of you will have a happy and more satisfying relationship.Self-Disclosure a Means to Enhance Communication‹Not only is having empathy towards each other important to a loving relationship but being comfortable with each other by self-disclosing one another is also necessary to a healthy marriage. The intentional act of sharing private and personal aspects of you with other people is called self-disclosure (Wheeless, 1978). This act is very important since you want to really know you can be yourself with each other. I can tell you that as time progresses in your relationship you will begin feeling more comfortable with each other. I want you to also keep in mind that there are many facets to self-disclosing yourself. This can also occur anytime you interact with others. For example, at work, family, friends and social media. Think of a time you used social media to post something about yourself. Three days ago, I posted how I enjoy the scent of wet dirt that’s left after the rain passes since it brings back memories of my childhood. This act showed to others my feelings and my personal likes. My advice to you both is to keep in mind that when you are sharing information about yourself you are entrusting the other person with that knowledge and you should never use it against each another In fact, I recommend to share experiences that you faced on previous relationships and what you liked or bothered you since this can in fact help strengthen your own relationship. In addition, you want to avoid forcing the other one to speak about a past experience, if they are not ready. Otherwise this can cause conflict between the two of you. I recommend you set rules on what you are comfortable disclosing to one another and always respect the right to each other’s privacy. Strategies on How to Manage Interpersonal Conflict‹Your relationship will be filled with many happy moments, but you will also go through disagreements. How you learn to manage your interpersonal conflict will help solidify your relationship. I want to give you some advice on how you can manage interpersonal conflict by using positive approaches that involve being more cooperative, actively listening, and apologizing when disagreements occur will be helpful. In addition, being a competent and mindful communicator will ensure you are able to resolve any disagreements between the two of you. The ability to identify and competently manage conflict will improve the quality of your relationships and make relationships more satisfying for you and your partner. (Bevan & Sole, 2014). In order to improve your relationship, you need to learn to recognize the signs of conflict and how to overcome it.There are five conflict styles people tend to use that be beneficial or increase conflict and learning to recognize them will better prepare you to know how to strategize and manage conflict. The first conflict style is called avoidance, this happens when the both of you try to stay away from the issue by ignoring it. The avoidance style can be helpful when the both of you are running high on your emotions and you need to create some space to calm down. It is not helpful if you think the issue will go away if you don’t confront it. The best approach is to use the avoidance style when you feel it will help resolve the conflict and not to get away from it. The second conflict style is accommodation, this happens when you choose to please the other person by giving in to the other persons wants. This style can be helpful if you know the other person is proposing a better solution to the conflict than your own. The third style is competition, this occurs when you take the lead on a decision without waiting on the other person to agree. The competition style can be useful if there is a situation that requires for you to make a quick decision for example if the skillet on the stove caught fire and you see that the best approach is to grab the extinguisher versus your partner wanting to call 911. The fourth style is compromise and this happens when the both of you come to an agreement and meet each other in the middle. The compromise style would be a useful strategy when you know the both of you have valid reasons for the disagreement and reaching an agreement with an alternative solution. Finally, the fifth style is collaboration, this happens when one of you involves someone else into the issue and this person agrees with one side. The collaboration style can be useful when we have a complex issue and we need someone else to validate your solution. My advice to the both of you is to always keep in mind these strategies to manage interpersonal conflict as well as always being mindful of the state of your emotions when having a disagreement. The best approach to any conflict is to always calmly talk about and learn to find a balanced resolution. It is not about who is right or wrong, it’s about resolving disagreements while keeping in mind the other persons feelings and needs. If you follow these strategies when you come across conflict the both of you will be able to know how to adapt to each other and build a stronger bond.Strategies on How to Manage Conflict Influenced by Gender and Culture‹To effectively be able to communicate and manage conflict we need to realize that people are not all the same. Learning about your cultural backgrounds and how it has influenced the both of you in your beliefs will also be important in managing conflict. Consider male and female differences in communication by focusing on socially and culturally constructed ideas of sex and gender. (Bevan & Sole, 2014). The both of you have defined gender roles that were set by cultural standards. Because of this it is important to keep them in mind when a disagreement occurs. For example, a culture barrier the defines gender roles is the notion that men are expected to be strong and hold their personal feelings to themselves. Females are culturally considered weak, gentle and sentimental. What this means is that since childhood your culture has played a key role on how you behave and communicate with others based on expected gender roles. This means that men are expected to not demonstrate feelings and women are expected to express emotion. This type of gender separation will create hardship on your relationship because neither one of you will be able to competently communicate because of the belief on how you should act.In time, if the both of you don’t learn to set aside these cultural differences, your relationship will start drifting apart. To learn to overcome these behaviors you need to acknowledge the existence of them and be able to self-disclose them to one another. In addition, you can also learn to identify your gender communication style. A masculine gender orientation is consistently linked to the increased use of instrumental and assertive communication in interactions, including accomplishing goals, influencing others, or finishing a job or task, whereas a feminine orientation is more closely associated with expressive and affiliation messages such as focusing on relational communication, closeness with others, and emotions (Aylor, 2003; Palomares, 2012). In both male and female communication styles each gender is specifically defined by different characteristics. An androgynous individual, who possesses aspects of both masculine and feminine gender orientations, could have more satisfying relationships than either masculine or feminine individuals because he or she has the advantage of being able to employ both communication styles with some degree of skill (Ickes, 1985). Having and androgynous communication style is like having the best of both worlds since you are able to adapt to either side and thus makes it easier to communicate. My advice to the both of you is to get to know your gender communication style in order to know how to effectively communicate and manage interpersonal conflict.‹In conclusion, I would like to complete my advice to the both of you by remind you that as long as you never forget what made you fall in love with each other. As well as keeping in mind to always work together as a couple to enhance your communications skills, this will help strengthen the bond of marriage. Maintain an open line of communication between the two of you. If a disagreement comes along always be respectful and loving with each other and remember to always remain honest and truthful. And the most important advice is to remember you are two souls who have joined as one and with the foundations of love, kindness and understanding the both of you together can overcome any barriers. References: Bevan, J. L., & Sole, K. (2014). Making connections: Understanding interpersonal communication (2nd ed.) [Electronic version]. Retrieved from Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. D. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 9, 185″211. Purkey, W. W. (1988). An overview of self-concept theory for counselors. Highlights: An ERIC/CAPS Digest. Retrieved from ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and Personnel Services at (ERIC Identifier: ED304630) Palomares, N. A. (2012). Gender and intergroup communication. In H. Giles (Ed.), The handbook of intergroup communication (pp. 197″210). New York, NY: Routledge. Aylor, B. (2003). The impact of sex, gender, and cognitive complexity on the perceived importance of teacher communication skills. Communication Studies, 54, 496″509. References:Muntigl, Peter. (July 29, 2004). Narrative Counselling: Social and linguistic processes of change Shumway, David R. (2003). Modern Love: Romance, Intimacy, and the Marriage Crisis