Follow Steve’s algorithm to answer all the questions posed. Please write at least ONE good paragraph in response to each stage in Steve’s plan, referring to at least ONE concept from the chapter in each.
MISUNDERSTANDING BETWEEN FRIENDS
Communication misunderstandings can be painful to experience and difficult to overcome. But just as communication occasionally provokes misunderstandings, it also can be used to solve them. Read the case study; then, drawing upon all you know about interpersonal communication thus far, work through the problem-solving model at the end of the exercise—a model designed to help you make more systematic and better relationship decisions in your own life.
Since freshman year of college, you’ve been best friends with Pujita. Pujita is smart, funny, and blunt—qualities you admire. You share many interests—music, movies, food. But you also have many differences. Pujita is much less serious than you and is more spontaneous, and you both come from different cultural backgrounds. Over the years, she has been a good friend, and without her help and support, you might not have survived college.
As graduation nears, you find yourself thinking more about your differences. Pujita is graduating with a straight-A average and has already received several promising job offers. You’ve done well in school, but unlike Pujita, you have not received any job offers despite energetic interviewing. One night, you and Pujita are hanging out with friends at their apartment, talking about jobs and exchanging interview horror stories. You’re having a great time, the most fun you’ve had in weeks. Suddenly, everything changes. One of your friends asks you how the job search is going, and after you jokingly respond, “I don’t know if I’ll ever get a job,” Pujita laughs and says loudly, “I can always throw you my leftovers.” Shocked, you ask what she means. She responds, “I’m thinking about taking next year off and just traveling. I can tell the companies that want me to hire you instead.” Your friends all chuckle, but you feel hurt and humiliated. Thinking that Pujita’s comment is her way of expressing her superiority, you snap, “You know, I don’t need your leftovers—I can’t believe how full of yourself you are!” and storm out.
That night, you receive an e-mail from Pujita. She says she was just joking and doesn’t understand why you’re so mad. She also demands that you apologize both to her and to your friends for your rudeness. As you read her message, a thousand thoughts run through your head. Did she intend to mock you, or was she being playful? Was she trying to pull rank and act superior? Did you overreact because you’re feeling sensitive about your lack of job offers? Should you, can you, repair the relationship? Pondering these questions, you begin writing a response: “Pujita . . .”
Think about the ideas and insights regarding interpersonal communication you’ve learned while reading this chapter. Keep them in mind while working through the following five steps. These steps constitute a process that can help you make more effective interpersonal communication choices in important relationships.
Remember, there are no right answers to the questions posed here. So think hard about what choice you will make! (P.S. Need help? See the helpful concepts listed below.)
Step 1: Reflect on yourself. What are your thoughts and feelings in this situation? What assumptions are you making about Pujita and her interpersonal communication? Are your assumptions accurate? Why or why not?
Step 2: Reflect on your partners. Put yourself in Pujita’s shoes. Consider how she is thinking and feeling. Are her views valid?
Step 3: Identify the optimal outcome. Think about what’s happened. Consider your own feelings as well as those of Pujita. Given all these factors, what’s the best, most constructive relationship outcome possible here? Be sure to consider not just what’s best for you, but what’s best for Pujita as well.
Step 4: Locate the roadblocks. Taking into consideration your own thoughts and feelings, those of Pujita, and all that has happened in this situation, what’s preventing you from achieving the optimal outcome you identified in step 3?
Step 5: Chart your course. What can you say and do to overcome the roadblocks you identified in step 4 and to achieve your optimal relationship outcome?
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