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Depending on the patterns, perceptions, and context of the communication, interpersonal connections can be strengthened or weakened. People's backgrounds, such as how they were raised or the culture of their surroundings, greatly influence how they view certain communication patterns. A person may come from a background where showing affection is different from how their partner perceives showing affection based on their background, and this may cause one to believe that the other does not feel affectionate toward them. This perception gap may be the root of many communication issues. Sometimes, the messages showing affection and care, are perceived in the same way by both individuals that are involved, but the channels which are used for interpersonal communication can be flawed and they end up being destructive to the relationship. Sometimes relationships are established in contrasting backgrounds and other times they are established in similar backgrounds where the individuals involved agree on the rules. Contrasting communication background may cause destructive communication patterns which are characterized by selfishness, paranoia, dominance and more. When these patterns occur over a long period of time the individuals involved may experience irritation or stress which often leads the relationship to ruins.
The extreme patterns of involved are: helpful, critical, active, passive, aggressive, evasive, dominating, submissive, certain and provisional. Destructive communication patterns are perceived in different ways by different people mostly depending on the background and context of the communication. They generally lead to reactions such as confusion fear and distrust which are unproductive for the growth of many relationships. Two destructive communication patterns I will tackle in this paper are aggressive and dominating patterns.
Aggression in communication involves a process of manifestation, the process usually begins with intimidation and unpleasant remarks from the aggressor, which is then followed by cliché of almost programmed remarks that become name calling, provocation and finally if the individuals involved don’t restrain themselves, there’s usually physical confrontation. Aggressive behavior in interpersonal relationship and communication often leads to women falling victim to domestic violence inflicted by their partners in relationships.
Aggression and aggressive behavior are certainly familiar concepts to me. I have encountered aggressive people on numerous occasions which made me mirror out their aggression and act out towards them. In a recent encounter, I was at the library researching for an assignment which was almost due, and I needed all the concentration I could get. I studied for a while then suddenly, there was this loud and obnoxious laugh. I looked up from my books to try and identify where the laugh was coming from, but I couldn’t see anything. I got back to studying then a few minutes later I heard the laugh again which made me lose concentration on my topic, so I scanned the room again, and two seats in front of me was this guy, well built in a blue denim jacket and a red cap which he wore backward. He had his right elbow on the back of his chair, and he had his phone on his other hand, vigorously texting.
So, whispered to him, “Hey, can you please keep it down.” He looked at me, shrugged then scoffed. Then he pressed the side buttons of his phone and manically smiled at me. I tried to get my concentration back which was interrupted by message tone, his phone must have been on silent mode but now it wasn’t, I tried ignoring it, but then it beeped again. So, I asked him again, “can you please keep it down, I’m on a deadline here,” he scoffed and said, “who cares.” He then made that loud and obnoxious laugh again. I couldn’t take anymore. So, I got up to leave, but then I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to concentrate elsewhere and instead of leaving, I went and reported him to the librarian then got back to my seat. About three minutes later the librarian came and asked the guy to leave; I couldn’t help but smirk when that happened. As he was leaving, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “this isn’t over.” I did not know what he meant, and I did not care, all that I cared about was getting material for the assignment.
Fast forwarding to about an hour later, I finished the assignment, and as I was leaving the library, I heard, “the librarian isn’t going to protect you out here.” To my surprise, there was the guy; he had waited for me all that time” to get even I suppose. I said, “look, man, I don’t want any trouble,” as I tried to rush past him he blocked my way and said, “are you running to get your mummy?” then shoved me. I was trying to keep cool, but when he pushed me it was the last straw, I wasn’t just going to take that while lying down, Infuriated I said to him, “do that again, and your face will be on the floor where it belongs.” That got him worked up, but a small crowd had already started to gather around us. I guess we both realized nothing good was going to result from the aggression and we both walked away in different directions.
People on the dominant extreme of destructive communication patterns always subjects themselves to games where there are a winner and a loser. The dominant character makes them very competitive because they always want to be better or more capable that the other individuals involved in their lives and personal relationships. They always assert their skills and knowledge on a lot of different fields and always want to be the decision makers of all the important aspects of the relationships. People who seek dominance in relationships do not perceive individual differences as simply uniqueness, but instead, they perceive differences as either strengths or weaknesses which will either make a person superior or inferior. To the dominance-seeking individual, casual encounters are competitions; they will try to outdo their partner or other individuals involved in the relationship, in almost all the opportunity they get. They often see themselves as extremely intelligent and relate the other individual involved in the relationship to be of inferior qualities such as unintelligent, uninformed, tasteless, ignorant and more. Since they often see themselves as more superior, instead of sitting down with their partners to make important decisions, they usually issue orders and ultimatums. It is either you do as you told or face the consequences.
Without realizing it, my relationship with my best friend ended because I was overly dominant with him. I used to criticize most things that he did and always wanted him to things my way. I often had a condescending tone with him and leaped at every opportunity that I had to correct his mistakes from his grammar to his clothes. I always wanted to make him feel inferior and walk in my shadow. One day he met this nice girl, and I think he liked her a lot because they began devoting a lot of time to each other, but I always criticized them. It got to the point that it was so much that he told me to stay away from him and that was the last time we talked. I was devastated since when he opted out from our friendship, and since then, I learned from my mistakes and worked hard to change and become better.
In the above two examples of destructive communication, if I had used the competence assessing standards things would’ve turned out different. Examining competence in communication may help people in the improvement of communication behavior. The assessment standards associated with competence communications which may have been applied to help in the examples I gave for a potentially different turnout are empathy, appropriateness, conversational management, and conversational involvement.
Empathy is an important skill to have when engaging in interpersonal communication. It enables individuals to visualize how it must feel to be in their conversational partner's position. The skill enables one to see other people’s point of view and not just their own. Empathy involves putting down your sentiments and being open to understand and experience your conversational partners’ thoughts and feelings and adopting their perspectives on issues and events. If I had more empathy towards my best friend, I wouldn’t have tried to be more dominant and criticize his every step. I would’ve understood that we are all different and we all have different preferences in life and doing that would’ve made me a better friend who isn’t obsessed with dominance and irrelevant competition with people. Things would have certainly been different. Conversational involvement is another skill that would’ve helped me save my friendship. Forcing my ideas and opinions down my friend’s thoughts was a sign of conversational narcissism which is wrong. Instead, I should have been more responsive, perceptive and attentive to his ideas and opinions which would’ve made him feel more involved in our friendship.
Conversational management is an important skill that would’ve helped my encounter with the guy at the library turn different by helping me to control my words and actions. Instead of threatening the guy who clearly wasn’t going to leave me alone, I should’ve exercised restraint on myself and controlled the situation. Threatening him made him get more worked up which made the situation worse. Another skill that could’ve made the situation different is appropriateness. Appropriateness is the ability to uphold proper expectations in each situation. Although the guy from the library provoked me and clearly wanted to start something, I should’ve taken the higher ground and ignored him instead of insulting him and provoking him further which could’ve resulted in violence with serious consequences.
In conclusion, there are numerous encounters or occasions that may lead people to destructive communication, sometimes without being aware. It is crucial to examine the context and purpose of communication before responding impulsively. Also, communication skills can be applied in different situations to help people understand and communicate with one another better.
Knapp, Mark L et al. Interpersonal Communication, And Human Relationships. Boston U.A., Pearson, 2014,.s
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