Although you may think that this chapter does not really apply to the facets of your job, it is an amazing insight into the relational dynamics of communication. Your text explains the formation of relationships, the models of relational development and its maintenance, the importance of self-disclosure in relationships at home and on the job, and the alternatives to self-disclosure.
Why we form relationships has a number of explanations. Appearance, similarity and complementarity, reciprocal attraction, competence, disclosure, and proximity, all these are reasons why we are attracted to others. Another reason of why we seek relationships is the need for intimacy. As your text points out, there are a number of dimensions to intimacy. The first of these is physical. The second dimension comes from intellectual sharing. The third dimension is emotional. Shared activities are the fourth dimension of intimacy. Not all relationships include all four dimensions. Some only have two dimensions, others may have just one. And some relationships are not intimate at all. Acquaintances, roommates, and coworkers may never become intimate at all.
There are also differences in gender when it comes to intimacy styles. As your text shows, it is not the biological sex that is most significant in shaping how men express intimacy. Rather, it is the gender role that the man assumes. Studying the differences between male and female measures of intimacy helps explain some of the stress and misunderstanding that we experience in our search for intimacy.
Cultural influences also play a role in intimacy. The notion of intimacy varies from culture to culture. In our society, we value self-disclosure highly, but not all Americans are equally disclosing. Even in the U.S., it varies from group to group.
This chapter discusses the models of relational development and its maintenance as well. There are ten relational stages, divided into “coming together” and “coming apart.” These stages hold true not only for couples, family, and friends, but also for business partners. Your text shows that the stage-related model may not be the best way to explain interaction in relationships. Another way of looking at this interaction is through dialectical perspectives. However, whichever way that you analyze a relationship, two characteristics can be found in every interpersonal relationship: relationships are always changing, and movement is always to a new place.
Self-disclosure is the sharing of personal information with others. We often judge the strength of our relationships by how much and how often we share. Although it is certainly important at times to open up, you should ask yourself to what degree the self-disclosure is appropriate. Your text gives you a number of tools to measure this.
Alternatives to self-disclosure are others type of communication that are available to all us. Lying, equivocating, hinting, and evasion are ways of communicating. Although we tend to think of lying as malicious, your text points out the functions of the benevolent lie. The difference lies here in the speaker’s motives and the effects of the deception.
Please know the key terms of this chapter and read the text thoroughly. I have listed a few web links for further study and your enjoyment.
Honesty and Intimacy
The Johari Window Model: Brief Explanation
Self-Disclosure and Openness
Social Exchange Theory
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