COMM101 Southern California Nonverbal Communication A Thousand Words Film Paper

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General Instructions:

Communication Theory: Nonverbal Communication

Movie/film: A Thousand Words (Eddie Murphy), 2012

In this 10 page paper(APA Format), you will apply your knowledge of basic communication terms to an analysis of a film. In general, you will: 

  1. Select a primary communication context(Nonverbal communication) that is reflected in a particular film of your choosing. Also, you will use several, specific terms(e.g., ,Paralanguage, Kinesics, Proxemics, Haptics, Public space, Social space, Personal space, Intimate Space, Physical Appearance)
  2. Conduct scholarly research in order to fully understand your chosen context. In other words, you will find journal articles to help you understand and apply course terms in your paper. This becomes the evidence for your paper

3. Lastly, you will define and explain the terms, and analyze how they are presented in the film. In addition, you will cite your journal articles within your paper as evidence and support of your ideas.

Journal Articles: 1.)

Your main goal in this paper is to apply communication terms to a film in order to demonstrate your understanding of these terms.

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Running Head : COMMUNICATION IN STEP-FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS From Brothers to Best Friends: Communication in Step-Family Relationships Raymond Hollowell Santa Barbara City College COMM 101 Online April 21, 2013 1 COMMUNICATION IN STEP-FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS 2 In the 1950's, the premise of the American dream was strong and vibrant. It was thought that success would bring about a wonderful life for anyone determined enough to go out and work hard for what they wanted. This desired prototype of a living structure featured a house with a white picket fence, a brand new Cadillac, and, most importantly, loved ones to share your success with. This notion of a nuclear family was key to determining whether or not the advertised "dream" had become a reality. A husband, a wife, two kids, and a possibly, a dog, constituted this ideal family. Now, while the American dream may remain a prominent aspiration to citizens and foreigners, alike, today's society is far removed from this image of this nuclear family. More than ever, people are finding divorce to be a common practice, and subsequently, find themselves remarrying. In fact, "almost 75 percent of single parents remarry, most within three years" (DiVerniero, 2011, p.26). The film, Step Brothers (2009) presents a comical, yet informative representation of one of the numerous family infrastructures in modern culture. By analyzing the various communication dynamics of a stepfamily, featured in the film, we can formulate a greater understanding of the components of personal and romantic relationships. Throughout the duration of the film, the characters enact certain features of personal relationships, such as relationship dialects, and follow an evolutionary course of said relationships, both in terms of friendship and romantic involvement. As a result of the examination of this film, we can move towards greater understanding of the communication of a stepfamily, and alleviate or help navigate the process to increase the likelihood of success and happiness. The film Step Brothers is about two people who get married, and each have a middle-aged son who still live at home. The two men, Brennan and Dale, automatically COMMUNICATION IN STEP-FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS 3 clash. Yet, upon further review, they turn out to be the best of friends. Brennan and Dale wreck all sorts of havoc, and eventually, their parents separate under the pressure. The two men then work to bring love back to their families, through the majesty of song. The initial aspect of the evolutionary course of a romantic relationship is the no interaction stage. This stage is defined as being "aware of ourselves as individuals with particular needs, goals, and qualities that affect what we look for in romantic relationships" (Wood, 2008, p.217). Even though the characters Dr. Robert Doback and Nancy Huff are aware of their goals, needs, and desired qualities, they are engrossed in their work and personal lives. It is not until Dr. Doback unintentionally flirts with Nancy at a conference, first nonverbally, by smiling and making strong eye contact, and secondly verbally, blurting out a comment about her breasts, that the two move second stage of invitational communication. Their interaction is tied strongly to the notion that proximity and similarity greatly influence attraction. Both happen to work in the medical field, and, by chance, attended the same seminar. These two factors ultimately lead to their meeting, and initial attraction. Almost immediately, the two begin to move forward to the third stage, titled the exploration communication. According to Wood, this is the stage where we learn about one another and search for commonalities (2008). Various topics are broached, and the breadth and depth of disclosure increases, resulting in greater feelings of intimacy. Each piece of new information seems to only add to the attraction between Nancy and Dr. Doback, with the final admission of each having a middle-aged son still living at home sending the two into a state of uncontrollable carnality. Between the two, a sense of passion, which is a strong feeling based on positive interactions with another, is COMMUNICATION IN STEP-FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS 4 undeniable. These common grounds seem to amply the matching hypothesis, which stipulates that people will prefer mates who match our backgrounds, lifestyles, and values (Wood, 2008). One study conducted stated the overall actual personality similarity of a couple directly correlated to the satisfaction of the woman involved in the relationship (Decuyper, 2012). Many personal relationships are greatly affected by the contexts of the situation at hand. One of the more drastic and often unforgiving contexts for a relationship to find itself in, is that of a stepfamily, and no part of the new family acts in direct result of this than the children. Stepchildren has long since been confused and angered by the daunting situation of a new family structure. Many were thrown off by the prospect of change, not knowing what was to come or how to react. Even those who were not sure of the entire event of their parents' remarrying where concerned about how their new family members would treat them (DiVerniero, 2007). The two sons in the film, Brennan Huff and Dale Doback, are instantly apprehensive and against the change ahead of them. Dale complains that he and his father's life will be altered, exponentially, being forced to leave behind his illusion of a world full of bravado and masculinity, just to accept his new stepmom and step brother. On the other hand, Brennan assumes the approach of questioning Dr. Doback's legitimacy as a full-fledged doctor. When his mother tells him Dr. Doback studied medicine at Northwestern and John Hopkins, Brennan replies that neither of those schools were up to his liking, and insinuates that he once smoked marijuana with "Johnny Hopkins," which was obviously an attempt to belittle the doctor's accomplishments. COMMUNICATION IN STEP-FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS 5 Despite their pessimistic outlook on the new arrangement, both Brennan and Dale treat their new stepparents with a role-limited interactions. This type of conversation is the first step to forming a friendship and relies on basic topics, without divulging much information or going into personal matters. With that being said, Dale and Brennan start off on a rocky-note. Dale sets a regulative rule, which dictates interaction within a family structure, that Brennan was not to touch his drum set. When Brennan decides to play Dale's drums, the conflict reaches a boiling point, with the two engaging in a full-fledged fight. As Wood states in regards to regulative rules, "deceitful communication or abuse may sound the death knell of a friendship" (2008, p.211). In response of the fight, Dr. Doback and Nancy set their own regulative rules for the two men to follow. One of the key components for a positive home and for regulative rules to work, is if each parent is on board with the subsequent action. Researchers have found that the coparenting dynamic in a relationship is integral to a properly functioning home (Schrodt, 2010). Despite their intended purpose of punishment, the act forms somewhat of the first semblance of a bond between the two men. The second bonding experience, that would ultimately force the men to become friends, began when Brennan's younger brother, Derek, came to visit. Derek and Dr. Doback seem to connect instantly, and appear to have already found themselves in the friendly relations stage, which is marked each participant checking to see in they share enough interests to form a strong friendship (Wood, 2008). Oddly enough, Nancy finds their connection to be odd as well, and this marks the first instance of detraction from their relationship culture. A relationship culture is the, "private world of rules, understandings, meanings, and patterns of interacting," which form the basis of a COMMUNICATION IN STEP-FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS 6 relationship (Wood, 2008, p.221). This response from Nancy could also be interpreted as the revising communication stage of the romantic relationship evolution (Wood, 2008). Because Nancy had been removed from her "euphoric" place in the intensifying stage, she was able to more objectively assess where she stood with Dr. Dobak. This alteration in stage placement allowed for her to contemplate the future of her marriage, and whether or not she agreed with Dr. Dobak's treatment of Brennan and Dale in comparison to his instant connection with Derek. The development of a friendship can take years to formulate, or can happen over night. After Dale punches Derek in the face, Brennan says, "I know that we started out as foe. But after that courageous act that you showed me against the one they call Derek, maybe someday we could become friends" (Step brothers, 2008). After this, Dale and Brennan retreat to their room, and begin to show one another certain items they each find interesting. Soon after this, the two begin to divulge potentially embarrassing and sensitive pieces of information. Brennan and Dale have now entered the moving toward friendship stage, which involves the desire to shift a relationship to another gear and a personal touch is added to the relationship dynamic. Through these acts of selfdisclosure, Brennan and Dale realize they have more in common than they ever could have anticipated. When analyzing this development to the scope of relationship dialects, which "are opposing and continuous tensions that are normal in all relationships," the two have shown that in regards to the third dialect of openness/closedness, they are more inclined to prescribe to the latter motive (Wood, 2008, p.212-213). After having had discussed such humiliating details, and yet not being effected whatsoever, it is clear they do not desire the type of secretive outlook others may be inclined to hold. In response to COMMUNICATION IN STEP-FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS 7 these new details, the two proclaim to have instantly became best friends. In this act, they transition into the fourth stage of the relationship evolution, the nascent relationship stage. This stage is brought on by the initial thoughts of actually being authentic friends. For the rest of the night, Brennan and Dale act as if they have been lifelong friends. Two more aspects of relationship dialects can be interpreted during the course of the film. Both of these instances can be found when Dale and Brennan begin looking for jobs. Instead of attending the interviews by themselves, the two decide to conduct joint interviews. This desire to remain together shows a preference towards connectivity in regards to the autonomy/connection dialect. Brennan and Dale seem to lack the need to explore their respective independent identities. The second relationship dialect examined during the course of the interview process is that of novelty/predictability, and their course of action shows a craving for novelty over predictability. They wear tuxedos, ask questions of the interviewee, and even just the act of conducting interviews together shows a tendency to go against the grain (Wood, 2008). Now that we have seen and focused on the growth and development of certain relationships, it would be fitting that we examined some aspects of a declining relationship. After seeing a scarce yet foreshadowing remark or look from Nancy, it was not until the interview fiasco that signs of a deteriorating relationship begin to show through. It is evident that Nancy does not wish to inflict the same amount of punishment as Dr. Dobak does. She give hints to a possible intrapsychic process within herself. An intrapsychic process is when one or both partners begin to think, intraspectively, about the problems in their relationship, as well as what they perceive to be shortcomings, on the behalf of their partner (Wood, 2008). However, if these thoughts of dissatisfaction or COMMUNICATION IN STEP-FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS 8 conflict are avoided, studies have shown that this is typically a solid indication of a failing relationship (Caughlin, 2010). The next step in a weakening relationship is that of the dyadic processes. This process takes place when established rules, practices and understandings begin to breakdown (Wood, 2008). Nancy and Dr. Dobak's relationship begins to show the signs of these processes after Dale and Brennan destroyed the doctor's boat. Again, Dr. Dobak wishes to treat the sons with a firmer hand, while Nancy insists on sensitivity and understanding. After the conflict reaches a tipping point as a result of Dr. Dobak trying to wake the two sons when they are sleep walking, the relationship has crumbled to a point of non-existence. After the break up of their parents, we see Brennan and Dale have a falling-out, and their relationship experiences the waning friendship stage, the final stage of the evolution course of personal relationships, when they decided to mutually cease their friendship. As Wood indicates, the context in which the relationship occurs can greatly affect the outcome of the parties involved (2008). Although Brennan and Dale were the best of friends, the break-up of their parents forced them to fight and blame one another. In the climax of the film, we see a number of relationships reconnect. First off, Brennan and Dale's relationship returns to the fifth relationship stage of friendship, the stabilized friendship, the portion of which is marked by stability and continuity. This happens through a musical performance which brings the two on stage. In response to their griping display of compassion and romance, Dr. Dobak and Nancy rekindle their relationship. This is brought upon through the resurrection process, which involved each member moving on in life without the other, and then a return to intensifying stage. COMMUNICATION IN STEP-FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS 9 Finally, they reached the intimate bonding stage. This stage takes place when the couple decides to remain with each other permanently. The relationship is transformed, "from one based on past and present experiences and feelings into one with a future" (Wood, 2008, p.221). It is here that we see the feature of commitment in a personal relationship. Although the road was rocky, Nancy and Dr. Dobak ended up together, despite the detractions. One of the features of a personal relationship featured throughout the story was that of uniqueness. Because neither man could function or essentially 'grow-up' until he met the other, their connection and friendship was one of a irreplaceable nature. When they attempted to separate from one another, we saw that they ceased being themselves, and were, for all intents and purposes, entirely different men. Throughout this paper the communication principles have been examined within a step-family structure, whether it be a husband-to-wife, brother-to-brother, or parent- tochild, as they pertain to friendship and romantic motives. By analyzing the various components of the two aforementioned relationship ideals, various aspects of the film were relayed to the scope of the features of personal relationships, which were uniqueness, commitment, contextual affects, and the dialects of the relationships, themselves. Additionally, all stages of the evolutionary course of personal relationships were covered, including both friendships and romantic relationship. With all of this in mind, the need for competent communication is blatant and unwavering. Without such abilities to interpret, analyze, and reorganize information regarding communication, this paper would not have been possible. The ability to view a situation and attribute it to a communication component can have a drastic effect on any potential outcomes. Today, COMMUNICATION IN STEP-FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS 10 just as in the past, someone who has never stepped foot on American soil can strive and achieve the American dream, but one of the main components is that of competent communication. COMMUNICATION IN STEP-FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS 11 Works Cited Caughlin, J., Hardesty, J., & Middleton, A. (2010). Conflict Avoidance in Families: Functions, Outcomes, and Applied Implications. Conference Papers -International Communication Association, 1. Decuyper, M., De Bolle, M., & De Fruyt, F. (2012). Personality similarity, perceptual accuracy, and relationship satisfaction in dating and married couples. Personal Relationships, 19(1), 128-145. DiVerniero, R. (2007). Dialectical Tensions in Communication with Extended Stepfamily Members. Conference Papers -- National Communication Association, 1. DiVerniero, R. A. (2011). Stepchildren's Communication to Manage Uncertainty in Stepfamilies. Texas Speech Communication Journal, 36(1), 24-42. McKay, A. (Director). (2009). Step brothers [Motion Picture]. United States: Sony Pictures. Schrodt, P. (2010). Coparental Communication with Nonresidential Parents as a Predictor of Couples' Relational Satisfaction and Mental Health in Stepfamilies. Western Journal Of Communication, 74(5), 484-503. Wood, J. T. (2008). Communication mosaics: An introduction to the field of communication. (5th ed.). Boston: Wadsworth Pub Co. Running head: AN EXAMINATION OF WAR ROOM An Examination of War Room Tanner Antles Santa Barbara City College Comm 101: 57403 April 17, 2016 1 Running head: AN EXAMINATION OF WAR ROOM 2 Interpersonal communication is the study of communication between people. According to Julia Wood, “Scholars of interpersonal communication study how communication creates and sustains relationships and how partners communicate to deal with the normal and extraordinary challenges of maintaining intimacy” (Wood, 32). While this branch of communication has been used to analyze a variety of dyads, there are few more prevalent than the husband-wife relationship. Additionally, within the husband-wife dyad, there is immense scholarly focus on conflict and what causes it (Burggraf & Sillars, 1987). This essay will focus on conflict within the husband-wife dyad, which is demonstrated in the film War Room, directed by Alex Kendrick. Specifically, this essay will address the nature of conflict, and what causes it, including: Verbal and nonverbal communication, level of meaning, listening, masculinity and femininity, as well as the following ways in which conflict can be resolved: Grace, mediators, bracketing, and interpersonal confirmation. The film War Room focuses on the distant and conflict-wrought relationship between a husband and wife. While on the outside, they live a seemingly perfect existence—living in a beautiful large home with nice cars and good jobs--an internal examination of their relationship shows a variety cracks which induce stress and argumentation. The husband, Tony (T.C. Stallings), struggles with temptation, nearly cheating on his wife and stealing from the company where he works. His wife, Elizabeth (Priscilla Shirer), in turn, becomes increasingly dissatisfied with her crumbling marriage, and becomes extremely hateful towards her husband. Things take a turn for the better however, when Elizabeth takes on a new client, Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie), who encourages the couple to find happiness through prayer and demonstrates positive relationship maintenance. Running head: AN EXAMINATION OF WAR ROOM 3 Conflict; what is it, and what causes it? These are important questions to ask when analyzing a relationship littered with it. The literal definition of conflict is that is exists when, “People who depend on each other have different views, interests, values, responsibilities, or objectives, and perceive their differences as incompatible” (Wood, 141). The term “conflict” may be broken up into two parts: overt conflict and covert conflict. Overt conflict occurs when people express differences in a straightforward manner, whereas covert conflict exists when people express disagreement only indirectly (Wood, 42). In the film, Tony and Elizabeth’s relationship involves both types of conflict, as they are confrontational and angry, but rarely address the real issues behind their anger and dissatisfaction. It is this lack of direct, overt conflict that inhibits the couple from understanding what they are actually arguing about, and leads to problems that they feel are unsolvable. In continuation, conflict analysis requires the assessment of both the content and relational levels of meaning in the proposed relationship (Wood, 13). In the case of Tony and Elizabeth, the relationship level of meaning is more important than the content level of meaning. The content level of what they say consists of simple statements such as, “What’s wrong honey?” which contain no inherent evil. However, when their relationship level of meaning is taken into account (i.e. the relationship between communicators), the root of their conflict becomes increasingly evident. Because Tony is biased towards believing that his wife hates him, he responds to her statement of, “What’s wrong honey?” with an angry, “I don’t want this right now…I don’t need your sarcasm!” This is an excellent Segway into the concept of nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication includes all aspects of communication other than words, and is ambiguous in nature, proving that others can read meanings into our behaviors that are Running head: AN EXAMINATION OF WAR ROOM 4 unintended (Wood, 91). Though nonverbal communication can take place in a variety of ways, the predominant methods in the film which attribute to the marital conflict are: physical appearance, olfactics, kinesics, silence, proxemics, and paralanguage. Since it has been proven that, “A fundamental feature of viable social relations is the development and maintenance of interaction patterns that encourage yet constrain the occurrence of conflict” (Millar, Rogers, & Bavelas, 1984), it may be understood that one must be very selective with their use of nonverbal communication. Unfortunately, this is not often the case in War Room, especially during the worst stages of Elizabeth and Tony’s relationship. An example of this can be found through the only real daily interaction between Tony and Elizabeth, which was when he returned home from work. During bad days, Tony would exhibit silence, while on really bad days, he would put forth negative characteristics of paralanguage, such as increasing his volume and speeding up his rhythm. According to Wood, “Men in general tend to have louder volume, lower pitch, and less inflection, which demonstrates a cultural view of men as assertive and emotionally controlled” (p.105). This is the practical definition of Tony’s actions, which continue to transpire despite Elizabeth’s attempts at positive kinesics, such as smiling. Additionally, there is a scene which depicts Tony aggressively asking Elizabeth, “What do you want!?” in which she replies, “I would love a foot-rub.” While it was been established earlier in the film that Elizabeth’s feet smell very bad, an example of olfactics, it would require a certain degree of love for anyone to rub her feet. Tony, not having crossed that threshold of love in some time, replies, “I ain’t rubbing your feet Elizabeth.” Other examples of nonverbal communication in the film involve physical appearance and proxemics. When their relationship is in-decline, Tony begins frequenting the gym, and is constantly veiny and muscle-bound, appearing paradoxically both healthy and under immense Running head: AN EXAMINATION OF WAR ROOM 5 stress. Elizabeth, conversely, turns to potato chips and starts to look slightly unkept in appearance. This, coupled with the advent of her “prayer room”, her area of personal space (proxemics), which kept her busy (as Tony was in need of many prayers) during large portions of the day, lent to her tired appearance. Another way in which conflict may be analyzed throughout the film is through conflict orientation. Conflict orientation assesses how conflict is perceived within a relationship, and offers three comprehensive orientations: lose-lose, win-lose, and win-win. The majority of conflict within the film is perceived by Tony and Elizabeth through the lens of the lose-lose orientation, which assumes that conflict results in losses for everyone (Wood, 143). Elizabeth also believes, however, that she loses most every argument to Tony, demonstrating a win-lose orientation—the idea that one person wins at the expense of another. As time progresses, Miss Clara begins teaching Elizabeth how to argue effectively, which eventually culminates in her and Tony’s ability to look at conflict as win-win, seeing conflict as a beneficial tool which may sort out relational issues. Insofar as Miss Clara is concerned, she plays a pivotal role in ameliorating the conflict that Tony and Elizabeth were experiencing. In the context of communication studies, Miss Clara performs as the mediator within the couples’ conflict, as she works with them to make a decision, yet has no power to actually make a decision within their relationship (Wood, 146). Among other things, Miss Clara introduces Tony and Elizabeth to the concept of grace; a term which became essential to the settling of their differences. Though you don’t have to be spiritual or philosophical to know grace, grace in the film is achieved largely because of the Christian storyline. Essentially grace is a willingness to excuse someone who has no right to expect your compassion or forgiveness (Wood, 151). It is the grace that Elizabeth demonstrates towards Running head: AN EXAMINATION OF WAR ROOM 6 Tony that eventually heals their relationship. While he continually expects Elizabeth to become hostile towards him, she refuses to let herself do so, but rather, continually exhibits grace. Yet another way in which Miss Clara helps the young couple to get back on their feet is by helping them to create a healthy communication climate. A communication climate is the emotional tone of a relationship between people, which reflects how they will respond in certain situations (Wood, 133). One of the chief causes of conflict in Tony and Elizabeth’s relationship is disagreement over how their daughter should be treated, a notion that has been well documented in the research field: The effects of children on marital satisfaction are due to role strain that disrupts the spouses’ abilities to enact marital roles that maintain satisfaction. That is, parents experience role strain because of the competing demands associated with the spousal role and the parental role (Dainton, 2008). While it has already been mentioned that their relationship was strained, it can be noted that the conflict within the husband-wife dyad certainly lead over and extended to the parent-child relationship. Within this relationship, there is a lack of interpersonal confirmation, which is the expressed valuing of another person (Wood, 134). While Elizabeth certainly does not feel loved or valued, neither does her daughter, a statement which became relevant in the film when the daughter, Danielle (Alena Pitts) tells her mother, “I think you love me a little, but you love work a lot.” To prove her point, the little girl then goes on to ask her mother various questions about her life, none of which Elizabeth has the answers to. This discussion culminates with tears. There are levels to which interpersonal confirmation is achieved, with recognition being the lowest, and endorsement being the highest. Recognition is the awareness of another person’s Running head: AN EXAMINATION OF WAR ROOM 7 existence--something that can be achieved via nonverbal behaviors such as a smile, or looking up when someone enters the room, and by verbal communication such as a greeting (Wood, 134). Failure to give someone recognition inevitably results in them feeling excluded or uncared for. Sadly, this was both Elizabeth and Danielle’s experience with Tony; during his worst days, he wouldn’t even recognize their existence. Acknowledgement, on the other hand, is a more powerful level of interpersonal confirmation. Acknowledgement is attentiveness to what a person feels, thinks or says, and can be exemplified through eye contact, head nods, and direct responses to others’ communication to show them that we are listening (Wood, 135). Counter-productive to successful acknowledgement, Tony and Elizabeth might be characterized as an “Independent” couple. Independent couples emphasize both autonomy and interdependence. They report being expressive with their mates and willing to engage in conflict (Burggraf & Sillars, 1987). It is this interdependence which may inhibit the couple from directly acknowledging each other. After all, there is a point in the film in which Elizabeth confesses to Miss Clara that both her and Tony are career-focused and have been that way for a long time. The highest level of interpersonal confirmation is endorsement, which is accepting a person’s feelings or thoughts as valid (Wood, 136). This is perhaps the most prevalent reason for Tony and Elizabeth’s conflict, as neither feels as though the other is A), listening to them, and B), accepting the fact that what they are saying is true and/or valid. While endorsement does not necessarily mean agreement with another’s thoughts or feelings, it does refer to acknowledging that they are real for that person. When Danielle tells her Dad that she loves Double Dutch, he responds with disappointment, saying, “I thought you were doing gymnastics” and “Aren’t you a little old to be doing Double Dutch?”, immediately causing her to well up with tears. A more Running head: AN EXAMINATION OF WAR ROOM 8 constructive version of his statement would’ve been something along the lines of, “I enjoyed watching you do gymnastics, but since you love Double Dutch, I’ll support you in doing that.” Along the lines of support, there are a variety of defensive and supportive climates, which researcher Jack Gibb categorized according to contrasting communication stances. These stances include: Evaluation versus description, certainty versus provisionalism, strategy versus spontaneity, control versus problem orientation, neutrality versus empathy, and superiority versus equality (Gibb, 1970). Though the film evidences all of Gibb’s communication stances to some degree, this essay will look at only those which are essential to the theme of conflict within the film. These include: Evaluation, certainty, control, empathy, and superiority. When it comes to the concept of evaluation, we tend to feel defensive when others evaluate us, especially when their conclusions are negative (Wood, 137). Many times in the film Tony made statements about his wife that were very evaluative as well as controlling. An example of this would be when Elizabeth wanted to send money to her sister because her sister’s husband had lost his job, leaving them in need of help. When Tony caught wind of this, he immediately labelled Elizabeth as an “enabler” and her brother-in-law as “lazy” and stated that he probably wasn’t even looking for a job. When Elizabeth tells Tony that she will send them her money, Tony is quick to make the controlling statement: “I make four times what you do. That is my money and I am not sending them any of it.” While demeaning to all those involved, Tony’s statement is also manipulative and wrought with superiority, in that he is stating that their shared bank account is his and his alone to preside over. The last piece to Tony and Elizabeth’s conflict puzzle is empathy, which coincides with the term “grace” mentioned earlier. Empathy is stepping into another’s shoes in order to understand why they feel a certain way (Wood, 140). According to Kory Floyd, a researcher at Running head: AN EXAMINATION OF WAR ROOM 9 Arizona State University, engaging in empathy in relationships is beneficial to the relationship in three distinct ways: First, empathic listening behaviors demonstrate immediacy. Second, empathic listening often results in the recipient feeling better understood and validated. Finally, recipients of empathic listening acknowledge an investment of time and energy that implies their worth to the listener (Floyd, 2014). While Tony and Elizabeth originally lacked empathy in their relationship, as they were frequently complaining to their friends about all of the things that their respective spouse was doing to annoy them, they eventually discovered that the other had legitimate reasons for acting and feeling the way they did. Elizabeth was the first to step forward and acknowledge Tony’s feelings as valid, an action which he eventually reciprocated. Without empathy and grace, their relationship would never have improved. In conclusion, War Room is a film which illustrates interpersonal conflict throughout. The film is unique in that it not only demonstrates the concept of husband-wife dyadic conflict, but also puts forth healthy and not-so-healthy ways of dealing with it. The film makes sense of the fact that conflict is a natural, inevitable occurrence in the continuous restructuring of social relationships (Millar, Rogers, & Bavelas, 1984), and that at times it can be a necessary evil which may result in satisfaction for all parties involved. Though Tony and Elizabeth came from different walks of life, they united together in marriage because an unequivocal love developed between the two of them. Though that love diminished over time, a single mediator was able to step in and save the day, Miss Clara. Through the employment of both empathy as well as grace, Tony and Elizabeth were able to rekindle the flame of their marriage, which had burned solely as an ember for some time. Not only was their relationship saved, but also the relationship with Running head: AN EXAMINATION OF WAR ROOM 10 their daughter, Danielle. The film did an excellent job of showing how problems and conflict in one area of life can seep into other areas if left untreated. Though Tony and Elizabeth’s relationship appeared perfect at first glance, it was defined by deep-seeded conflict which influenced them to live miserable lives. When they once again embraced one-another affectionately and brought love back into their household, they lived a much happier existence. Men and women are different in their approach to communication, and must thusly place immense focus on understanding if they are to live in relational harmony. Running head: AN EXAMINATION OF WAR ROOM 11 References Burggraf, C. S., & Sillars, A. L. (1987). A critical examination of sex differences in marital communication. Communication Monographs, 54(3), 276-294. doi:10.1080/03637758709390233 Dainton, M. (2008). The use of relationship maintenance behaviors as a mechanism to explain the decline in marital satisfaction among parents. Communication Reports, 21(1), 33-45. doi:10.1080/08934210802019413 Floyd, K. (2014). Empathic listening as an expression of interpersonal affection. The International Journal of Listening, 28(1), 1-12, 1-10. doi:10.1080/10904018.2014.861293 Gibb, J. R. (1970). Sensitivity training as a medium for personal growth and improved interpersonal relationships. Interpersonal Development, 1, 6-31. Kendrick, A. (Director). (2015). War Room [Motion picture on DVD]. United States: Affirm Films. Millar, F. E., Rogers, L. E., & Bavelas, J. B. (1984). Identifying patterns of verbal conflict in interpersonal dynamics. Western Journal of Speech Communication, 48(3), 231-246. doi:10.1080/10570318409374159 Wood, J. T. (2014). Communication mosaics: A new introduction to the field of communication (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub.
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