OGECHUKWU P. IBEWUIKE-NICHOLAS
Interpersonal relationship is a transactional process involving participants who occupy different but overlapping environments and create meaning and relationships through the exchange of messages, many of which are affected by external, physiological, and psychological noise. Interpersonal communication is the physical and emotional interaction between people. It could be centered on similar interests, close relationships and work environments. Every individual communicates in their own unique way, there is no specific way of communicating.
In addition, to prevent conflicts in a relationship, the individuals must love, trust, understand and be loyal to their partners. There are so many ways of improving communication skills in a relationship, but Ill mention few:
Firstly, communicate with your partner. Make out time to have quality conversations with your partner. They say communication is key. You have to express yourself and let the other person know your concerns and what you want, if not, the person wont know
Secondly, Understand the non-verbal behaviors.
Example of non-verbal behaviors are vocal tones, postures, gestures. When your partner is frowning and tells you he is fine, then that is probably not the case, there is something bothering him/her.
Thirdly, dont guess what a person is feeling or want. If you want to know how a person is feeling, or what the person wants, just ask. That way you will get a more accurate answer, than concluding that persons emotional state or want.
The relationship Im going to analyze is that of me and my boyfriend. We started dating during the review week (which is amazing!), before then, we were close friends. I chose him because I have known him for about two years, I have feelings for him, and I want to use this opportunity to know him better and really understand our relationship.
I met my boyfriend at a family general meeting, which was hosted by my uncle, Mike. Uncle Mike is my dads cousin, but they are like brothers. His wife asked me a week before the meeting to come that Sunday to assist her in cooking and preparing for the meeting. Each family hosts a family meeting at a certain time in a year, to keep the family together (because of the busy lifestyle of America). At first, I thought it was a club meeting, but it turned out to be a family meeting. I was new in America, so I was happy to see my relatives. I saw new faces I had never seen before, including Ben. He sat across the living room, I noticed he was staring at me, so I went to the kitchen to sit. Few minutes later, he joined me in the kitchen with two other young adults. Those two were talking, so we started talking. He was friendly, we talked like we had known each other for a long time. He said he knew and liked my dad, but he was surprised to hear that I was his daughter; as he didnt know my dad had a daughter.
He told me how beautiful I was and would appreciate it if I taught him our native language (he was born in America). We exchanged phone numbers and started communicating. In the process of giving him free Igbo language tutorials, we got to know a lot about each other and noticed we had some things in common. For instance, we are both single and we love music. Also, I found out we werent cousins (that was good news to me), our families are from the same kindred, that explained the closeness. We started hanging out, we didnt have an intimate relationship regarding sex or kissing, but it was clear that we were attracted to each other.
We usually visit each other occasionally. Sometimes, we spend the night at each others apartment after watching late night movies or bad weather conditions. But one secret is, our relationship is private. Nobody, not even family members know that we are close. We agreed to keep it that way because, when other relatives know, things might get awkward and they might start thinking we would get married or we are having sex. We dont just want them to treat us as couples yet, and besides, we didnt know how they would react (they would be surprised for sure). For the sake of this project and to spend quality time with him, I visited him every day for a week. I experienced a lot and I am going to use specific concepts from Interpersonal communication to analyze my relationship with Ben during the review week.
Self-concept can be described as what you believe you are. It is the way we perceive our thoughts and emotions. Carl Ransom Rogers believes that the self-concept has three different components: the view you have of yourself (self-image), how much value you place on yourself (self-esteem or self-worth), what you wish you were really like (ideal-self) (McLeod, S. A. 2008). These components also refer to past, present and future selves. Self-concept changes the more you know and understand yourself better.
Ben affected my self-concept in some ways. The second day of the review week, we went shopping. I saw a dress I liked, he thought the dress was pretty and wanted to get it for me, but I refused. I told him the dress wouldnt look good on me. When we got to his apartment, he asked me why I didnt want the dress, I explained to him that I am skinny, and the dress would look weird on me. I have this belief that some kinds of bodycon dresses are for thick and curvy women, I know I was being insecure. He then said to me, your body size doesnt matter, what matters is how confident you are in your body. You can be slim and style yourself in a way someone would want to be like you. I tried the dress and it was so beautiful, I never would have thought of getting a dress like that.
Perception is the way use our senses to process information in our environment. It is our point of view. It can make or break a relationship, depending on how the two people in the relationship perceive each other. We can change our perception as a result of self-monitoring. Here are four steps of perception namely: selection (the impressions we attend to), organization (meaningful arrangement of information from the environment), interpretation (attaching meaning to sense data) and negotiation (the influence of one anothers perception and try to achieve a shared perspective) (Adler, R.B., & Proctor, R.F (2016).
Ben changed my perception of my dress style. Usually I dont get some kinds of outfits because of my insecurity, but after trying the dress on and saw how pretty I looked on it, that changed a whole lot. So now, when I go shop for clothes, I do not limit myself to a specific kind of outfit. Also, my perception of Ben is that he is a gentleman, but teases a lot. So when he teases, I do not get mad at him.
Self-disclosure is the process of deliberately revealing information about oneself that is significant and would not normally be known by others (Adler, R.B., & Proctor, R.F (2016). It must be intentional, and an information only known to self. Self-disclosure increases the attraction between two people (as they disclose their secrets), which increases trust in the relationship. Some disadvantages of self-disclosure include discrimination, bad impression and risk of annoying someone. There are alternatives to self-disclosure which includes silence, lying, equivocating and hinting (Adler, R.B., & Proctor, R.F (2016)
I forgot to mention that Ben is a military member, specifically Navy. Also, remember we were still close friends during this at this point. While we were talking about our previous relationships, I asked him why a good-looking man like him was still single. He smiled and said he fears getting a heart break. Since he goes for navy deployment, sometimes in a year, they can go for months. He is scared that his girlfriend might lose interest and leave or start cheating, as not many people can cope with long distant relationship. He also said he has found someone he really has feelings for, but hopes the feeling is mutual.
I also disclosed to him a secret only known to me. My parents are divorced, and my dad is older than my mom with 15 years. I keep thinking its probably because of the age difference. So, I decided not to date any man older than me with 7years. I experienced the need to access one of the alternatives to self-disclosure (equivocating) when he cooked for me, the food had no taste. When he asked how the food was, I told him he shouldnt have bothered cooking, but I ate it anyway.
To my understanding, emotions is the way we feel. Understanding our feelings and of those around us, helps us to become better communicators. Researchers coined the term emotional intelligence (EQ)to describe the ability to understand and manage ones own emotions and be sensitive to others feelings (Williams, K.D. 2001). Some of the guidelines for expressing emotions are be conscious and able to identify your feelings, stock-up on words to better communicate your feelings and know the appropriate place and time to express your feelings.
I and Ben expressed our emoting during the review week on different occasions. We went swimming on a hot afternoon, I told him how the water made me feel refreshed and he said me too. Also, Im excited to have you around, you make my day and I replied him you always say the nicest things to me
He texted me and asked me to come over to his place. I was going to go there anyway, so why the rush? I was curious, are you okay? I replied his text and he replied yeah, just come, so I went. He welcomed me with a smile and hug. He said he made me dinner took me to the dining table. Everywhere smelt good (I hoped the food also tasted good). After dinner, he looked into my eyes and expressed his love for me, he said Nwanyioma (Igbo language, good woman), I love you with all my heart, I cant stand seeing you with another man, can we please take this relationship to the next level, will you be my girlfriend? I was shocked, didnt expect that. Then I replied Nwokeobioma (Igbo language, meaning a man with a good heart, I love you also and yes, I will be your girlfriend). So, we are officially dating.
Non-verbal behavior simply means without words. It involves a distinctive facial expression, postures, gestures, different vocal tone and rate, and so on (Adler, R.B., & Proctor, R.F., 2016). Non-verbal behaviors add meanings to a relationship. It also expresses verbal communication. Non-verbal behavior helps us relay a message we dont want to speak with words.
Non-verbal behaviors improved my relationship with Ben. It added more spice and meaning to the relationship. For instance, we gave each other signals when he wants to tell me he cant hear me, he taps his ear twice. When I want to tell him Im hungry, I rub my belly. When I want to say yes, I raise my brows twice. When he wants to say he will be right back, he rotates his index finger. When he is tired, he puts his hands on his waist. That made us understand each other and brought us closer.
Communication climate refers to the emotional tone of a relationship Adler, R.B., & Proctor, R.F., 2016). When there is a positive communication climate, couples always have a long lasting and healthy relationship. While, when there is a negative communication climate, couples always end up with sad and broken relationships.
My relationship with Ben during the one-week review had a positive communication climate. There was no negativity, only good vibes. We hung out, expressed our emotions, had no conflict, spent quality time together, made each other laugh and understood each other.
Confirming and disconfirming communication are used to measure values in messages. Confirming communication gives effective responses and are used to show the presence of values. While, disconfirming communication gives disregarding responses, and is used to show the absence of values in messages.
During the review week with Ben, I used the disconfirming communication when he tried to tell me about soccer. Im not a fan of soccer, I dislike it a lot. But that day, he was so exited because his team won. He started telling me about what happened during the game, forgetting my dislike for soccer. I gave him irrelevant responses, as I started talking about my homework that I had to do. That was kind of unpleasant, but I really didnt want to listen to stories about his soccer game. This was the conversation:
Ben: Hey Oge, Im so happy, my team won
Me: I have a lot of homework to do, which one should I start with
Ben: They scored the last goal three minutes to the end of the game, isnt that amazing?
Me: I guess Ill start with the math homework.
When I shipped some items to my family in Nigeria, I was so happy. I told Ben about it and he was happy for me, he gave me positive responses (confirming communication). This was the conversation:
Me: Hey Nwokeoma, I have finally shipped those items to Nigeria
Ben: Wow, when will they receive it?
Me: In two weeks
Ben: That is good news, at least you can rest now
The relationship between myself and my boyfriend, has been through some stages. The first stage was when we met at the family party. Even though our families knew each other, we were both strangers to each other. The second stage which is the build up stage, was when we started communicating and getting to know each other better. At this stage, we found out the things we had in common and knew we were compatible. The third stage (which we are in now) which is the continuation stage is where we decided to become official boyfriend and girlfriend. Im sure he will agree with me that we are at this stage.
Conflict can simply be defined as the disagreement between two or more people to achieve a common goal. Conflict style is the method people use to resolve disagreements. During the review week, I didnt have a conflict with my boyfriend, but we had a conflict a week before then.
At the time of the conflict, we were close friends. I was taking three summer courses, Mathematics, Psychology and Communication. I had little time for myself, because I had a lot of homework and studying to do. I only went on social media, made and answered calls and at my leisure time (including Bens). He wanted us to hang out, but I was too bust for that. He felt like I neglected him and didnt have time for him (we werent even dating). So, to resolve the issue, we scheduled a day to meet and talk physically (which was a week before the review week). I told him what I wanted from him, which was his understanding of my situation. Since it wasnt just about me, I asked him for his point of view and why he got mad at me. His reason was, because he missed me and wanted me to make out time for him out of my busy time. We both understood that we wanted to talk to each other and be in contact.
We used the win-win method to resolve this conflict. The win-win method is when both partners reach a compromise, to agree to a mutual resolution. We had to check for possible solutions to resolve the conflict such as: calling each other once a day, doing my homework while at his house (anytime during the week), Hanging out twice a week, texting each other or avoiding each other until the end of the semester.
After evaluating all the possible solutions to resolve the conflict, we decide to consider calling each other once in a day and doing my homework while hanging out at his house. That was the best resolution because, we made sure we talked everyday and still had fun at his house, with some time to do my homework.
In my own words, I would characterize this relationship with my boyfriend as: trustworthy (we have each others back and do not doubt each other), respectful (we respect each others opinions and do not curse each other), comfortable (we feel free to discuss anything, no matter how embarrassing it is) and happy (we tease, have fun and make each other laugh).
A communication theory that I didnt talk about in this paper is Culture. Culture was what brought my and my boyfriend together in the first place; when he wanted me to teach him how to speak Igbo language. It also plays a big role in non-verbal communication, s an African/Nigerian, non-verbal communication is very important. My boyfriend and I can communicate with non-verbal behaviors because of culture.
What I learned from communication that isnt already covered in this paper is that mediated communication enhances a relationship. When my boyfriend goes on his Navy deployment, we can communicate through social media, such as Facebook. He might be far away on a ship in the middle of an ocean, but through mediated communication, Im assured he is okay.
In conclusion, this project has been an interesting one. I learned a lot through the review week. I got to understand the concepts of communication better and how to apply it in real life situations. I ended up dating the love of my life. Also, I understand my relationship better and know how to deal with interpersonal conflicts.
Adler, R.B., & Proctor, R.F (2016). Looking out/looking in (15th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
McLeod, S. A. (2008). Self-concept. Retrieved from
Williams, K.D. (2001). Osracism: The power of silence (pp. 7-11). New York, NY: Guilford