You are on page 1of 36


Communication in Families and at Work

What is a family?

Family (Galvin): System with two or more interdependent people who have a common history and a present reality, and who expect to influence each other in the future.

Avoidance (Lose-Lose)


Avoidance: When people nonassertively ignore or stay away from conflict. Pessimistic attitude about conflict. Avoiders put up with the status quo. Leads to unsatisfying relationships. Avoidance can help when:

risk of speaking up is too great when the conflict isnt worth the effort when the issue is temporary


Three couple types (Fitzpatrick)


Physically close; psychologically distant. Dont avoid conflict Low marital satisfaction/affection Individual freedom Conflict-avoidant Low marital satisfaction/affection Interdependence Avoid conflict High marital satisfaction, affection




20% traditionals 18% separates 22% independents 40% mixed Traditional partners: Highest marital satisfaction; greater fulfillment of expression Mixed couples similar.


Gender role

Feminine communication

High expressiveness, low instrumentality Instrumental, task-related topic; low in emotional content High in emotional and instrumental messages

Masculine communication

Androgynous communication

Undifferentiated communication

Low instrumentality/ expressiveness



Study of 200 couples Gender-typed pairs: Lower level of satisfaction than androgynous pairs Lowest level of love and satisfaction: stereotypical feminine and masculine relationships


Daily tasks in the household jump from 6 to 36 after childs birth. Patterns of interaction

Communication becomes more complicated with arrival of the first child. Three different dyads occur


Managing the connection-autonomy dialect


Hold me tight. Put me down. Leave me alone. Vacillates at different stages of growth.

After children are launched, couples have to re-negotiate their couple-ness.


Communication strategies

Confirmation Humor Social support Escape

Three dimensions of interaction explain sibling communication


Affection Hostility Rivalry


Siblings offer vital support through life.



Sharing tasks Expressing positivity Offering assurances Talking about family, reminiscing about childhood Sharing stories all help clarify family events and validate feelings and life choices

Families as Communication Systems

Family members are interdependent A family is more than the sum of its parts Families have systems within the larger system Family systems are affected by their environment


Role are based on kinship.

Kinship role is culturallybased

Functional roles: who doe what within the family Social roles: harmonizer, problem solver, tension reliever, etc. Role expectations are conveyed through communication

Family Narratives



Reaffirm familys identity by reinforcing shared goals Teach moral values Stress family concerns Reflect how members feel about each other Reflect how to operate in the world Dysfunctional families can be united by a shared narrative.

Models for Other Relationships

Experiences in our family of origin share the way we communicate throughout life. Research:

Levels of hostility and positive engagement at 14 linked with same 17 years later North America:


Emotional support and loyalty comes from a limited number of people; children more self-reliant

Mexico, Latin America, Africa, Asia

Support and loyalty extend beyond immediate family.

Communication Rules

Families have many rules governing communication among members and with outsiders.

Who may speak or to whom How one speaks Topic of conversation Maintaining opennesscloseness dialect difficult in stepfamilies

Communication Rules

Fitzpatrick & Koerner:

Conversation orientation

Degree to which families favor an open climate of discussion of a wide array of topics

High: Frequent, free interaction, spontaneous, without limitations. Low: Less exchange of private thoughts.

Conformity orientation

Degree to which family communication stresses uniformity of attitudes, values, beliefs.


High: Seek harmony, conflict avoidance, interdependence, obedience; hierarchical; conflict is avoiding and obliging. Low: Individuality, interdependence, equality; individual growth encouraged.

Communication Rules

Families high in conversation orientation/conformity orientation families: consensual

Communication reflects tension between pressure to agree and preserve the hierarchy and interest in open communication and exploration.

Families high in conversation orientation and low in conformity: pluralistic

Open, unrestrained communication; contributions evaluated on own merits.

Families low in conversation orientation/high in conformity orientation: Protective

Communication reflects obedience to authority; reluctance to share thoughts, feelings.

Families low in conversation orientation and conformity orientation: laissez-faire

Lack of involvement, emotionally divorced, decision-making is individual.

Strive for Closeness While Respecting Boundaries

Too much cohesion can be a problem

Enmeshed: Too much consensus, too little independence Disconnected, limited attachment/ commitment Physical Conversational Emotions Handling of topics Requires open negotiation; happen through trial and error


Creating boundaries

Define boundaries

Strive for a Moderate Level of Adaptability

Adaptability too high: Chaotic family Adaptability too low: Rigid family Avoidance of extremes dictates functionality Families function best with moderate levels

Encourage Confirming Messages

Confirming behaviors of mothers


Telling children they are unique and valuable as human beings Genuinely listening to children when told something of importance

Disconfirming behaviors

Belittling children Making statements that communicate their ideas dont count

Adolescents who receive confirmation are more open communicators. Gottman: Couples should have an appropriate ratio of positiveto-negative messages (5:1).

Deal Constructively with Conflict


Beware of destructive conflict: Physical or verbal aggression Family conflict should be dealt with Unresolved conflict creates tensions Key is how the conflict is dealt with:

Dont sweat the small stuff Focus on manageable issues Share appreciations and gripes Seek win-win solutions Positive conflict standards are good predictors of family satisfaction.


How important is communication at work?

400 HR Managers:

Interpersonal/human relations at the top of the list. Communication skills ranked higher than GPA, specific degree held and technical skills. Public Forum Institute: Participants responded that soft skills, such as interpersonal relations, critical thinking, and problem solving, were more sought after in candidates than were hard skills, such as computer literacy, writing, and technical skills.

Advancing Your Career: Networking

Interpersonal communication skills help you network.

Networking: Process of deliberately meeting people and maintaining contacts to get career information, advice, and leads. Face to face or mediated i.e., Facebook, MySpace. Consider immediate and distant contacts Join networks of strangers to seek job leads through career networking or community.

Identifying your networks


Interviewing for Employment

Interviews are a conversation, but without social chats Interviews are:


Purposeful Structured Controlled Balanced in participation

Before the Interview

Clarify the interviewers goals

Education and training most important? Initiative? Experience? Discover hidden goals Extra resumes Take notes Copies of past work References Advance research of the organization

Come prepared

During the Interview

Make a good first impression


Arrive 10-15 minutes early Consider clothing Research: First exchange can shape success or failure: First four minutes!

Get off to a good start


Greeting Informal conversation Establish common ground Think: General theme, then specifics. Come with brief stories, illustrations, examples that highlight your abilities and skills.

Give clear, detailed answers


During the Interview

Keep your answers focused


Beware of rattling on; employ turn-taking. Answers shouldnt run over a minute or two. First four minutes! Interviewer sets the emotional tone Tone doesnt fit? Job may not fit.

Follow the interviewers lead



Come prepared to answer the interviewers questions. Come prepared to ask the interviewer questions

Interview the company as much as they are interviewing you. Good questions show youve done your homework, but avoid salary/ benefit questions.

After the Interview


Note of thanksbe one of the few! Express appreciation Identify specific information learned during the interview Show how what you learned makes you a good match for the job Confirm the next steps.

Formal and Informal Relationships

Formal communication: Interaction that follows officially established channels. Upward communication: Subordinates communicate with their bossessometimes in a way that distorts negative information and puts it in a positive light.  What subordinates are doing  Unsolved work problems  Suggestions for improvement  How subordinates are feeling

Formal and Informal Relationships

Downward communication: Managers address message to subordinates


Job instructions Job rationale Feedback

Horizontal communication: Occurs between people who dont have direct supervisor-subordinate relationships.

Task coordination Sharing information Conflict resolution

Formal and Informal Relationships

Informal communication: Friendships, shared personal or career interests, proximity. Informal messages supplement formal messages:

Confirmation Often more efficient and accurate

Face-to-Face and Mediated Relationships

Virtual teams

Groups that operate electronically can communicate in ways that otherwise wouldnt be possible.

Communication medium has advantages and drawbacks.

Personal Skills in Work Groups


Relational skills as important as task-related skills Relational roles (Benne & Sheats)

Encouraging participation Harmonizing Relieving tension Evaluating the groups emotional climate Giving praise Listening thoughtfully to the concerns of others Orientation: harmony/politeness Conflict Emergence: members enthusiastically or reluctantly accept teams decision. Reinforcement

Best teams struggle on the path to consensus


Group Cultures

Organizational cultures

Relatively stable, shared rules about how to behave and set of values about what is important The way things are around here. Sociability Distribution of power Tolerance for new ideas Ways of managing conflict Emotional support

Dimensions of communication

Leadership, Power, and Influence in Working Groups

Designated leader

Person (people) with official titles that indicate authority.

Every member of a working team has at least one resource of power that affects the group.


Expert power: Designated leaders arent always the best or only experts. Reward power: Members can bestow their own rewards. Coercive power: Anyone can punish. Referent power: Influence that comes from members mutual liking and respect.