A relationship can be defined as a connection between two or more individuals, which may vary from transitory to enduring one. Interpersonal relationships are based on cultural, social and other forms of different impacts. The categories of relationships may range from family relations, marriage, and friendship to those established within neighborhoods, clubs, and working surroundings. When conflicts arise, relationships become unhealthy. Thus, there is a need to understand basic methods and skills of improving interpersonal relationships. This paper explores the ways of developing relationships along with the guiding principles and theories that can help an individual to overcome interpersonal problems and challenges.
In certain situations, conflicts can happen in the relationship. Interpersonal problemsinclude certain barriers that disturb partners in the relationship. The complications combine physical, perception, emotional, cultural, language and gender barriers (Lyman 360).
Physical barriers occur when partners are separated by physical distance. In this case, they are not able to communicate effectively with each other or, in other words, their interpersonal communication is limited by the distance. Perception barrier appears when partners have dissimilar views and perceptions of different matters. Emotions can also act as a barrier when partners in the relationship are controlled by their jealousy, fear, mistrust, and doubt amongst other emotions.
Culture can determine the behavior of partners in the relationship, as it is shaped by cultural judgments, perceptions, thoughts, and values. Therefore, culture is an extremely powerful tool that can affect conflicts and help to solve them by keeping boundaries.
Language and gender can also create a problem in relationships. In some relationships, the man prefers an assertive, dominating and commanding role, while females usually choose a socially oriented approach. In this way, understanding of partner’s role is the first step to evading this barrier. The other barriers include negative emotions, low self-esteem and lack of commitment.
Negative emotions mostly arise from unpleasant experiences in past relationships. They may cause painful situations and outcomes in relationships. Low self-esteem is a very dangerous point that can take a heavy toll on the interpersonal communication in your relationship. The partner with low self–esteem will not have the courage to express his/her feelings. As a result, the wrong signals or messages can be send to the other partner posing a threat to the existing relationship. Lack of commitment is another formidable enemy that can send a wrong message to one’s partner. One of its primary reasons is the mistrust that develops between partners.
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During a conflict, de-confirming responses aggravate the problem creating more harm than good. Gibbanalyzed these responses through six categories, which he collectively termed as defensive behavior. He called them defense arousing behaviors, because they occur when a person observes or foresees a threat in a relationship. The first one is identified as evaluative communication, when one partner accuses the other one putting him or her on the defensive side. The second category is control communication, when one partner imposed his/her solution of the conflict on the other irrespective of their feelings. Strategy communication involves manipulating other partner into acting in a certain manner. Another defensive behavior is neutrality, which involves an attitude that lacks concern for the partner. Superiority is evident when people behave as if they had an advantage over others. Finally, certainty is defensive behavior that comprises only sending a message to inform one’s partner about the relationship that one has already made up in his or her mind. All these defensive behaviors are disastrous and regressive for developing healthy relationships (Gibb 163).
A defensive behavior approach to resolving interpersonal problems leads to a win-lose situation or lose-lose scenario when both sides are dissatisfied. The best way of resolving conflicts, which makes both parties satisfied, is called the win-win situation.
In order to resolve challenges through the win-win approach, there are several steps to be involved in this process. First, both parties involved have to determine their problem and unfulfilled needs. Then, they should initiate and encourage positive communication climate by the decision to resolve the problem. They should place all their problems and requirements on a table. The time to check back with each other should be fixed to ensure that there is mutual understanding. Every partner must inquire about the needs of the other and paraphrase them in order to ensure that they are well-understood. Subsequently, a solution is negotiated and, later, a follow up on the established solution should be made.
Supportive behaviors mean listening and understanding the feelings of other people rather than judging them. It is a practice that can be learnt and adopted as a way of developing relationships. Listening to each other creates a warm climate and healthy relationship between partners. Through supportive approach, people can put emphasis on their ideas as well as compare them with other ones and admit a different viewpoint.
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Negotiating a solution should be done in a systematic way to avoid unnecessary compromise. First, a conflict is determined and defined precisely. Then, probable solutions are developed and collected together. The evaluation of substitute solutions is included in such a way that the best solution is chosen. Conflicts should not always appear as win-lose scenarios; there is a win-win solution available most of the time. People should adopt assertive behaviors to be able to express their feelings without hurting themselves and others.
Communication is an extremely influential and necessary aspect of relationships. Interpersonal communication is the method that is used to communicate ideas, feelings, and thoughts between people. The skills of interpersonal communication are learned and, thus, can be improved through practice and reflection. For instance, Sarah Trenholm and Arthur Jensen argue that the use of silence, paraphrase, right question, and reflection on feelings have helped many individuals to build strong interpersonal communication.
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Interpersonal and personal conflicts in communication can be solved via self-concept development and maintenance, and strategic communication method. Relationships fall and crush without effective communication. Thus, interpersonal skills are necessary for developing and maintaining a successful relationship. The best way to improve the relationship between partners is to demonstrate respect to each other. This will prevent needless conflicts in the future.
When a conflict situation occurs, one needs to find a reliable solution that will help to deal with the conflicts as a couple. It is a tremendous mistake to neglect the conflicts. Unresolved conflicts lead to stress, resentment, hostility, and anger, which may have a negative effect on interpersonal communication as well as the relationship.
It is necessary to think through an issue before teeling the partner about the conflict. Thereby both partners will make a better team and develop one another’s self-esteem and courage. When dealing with a conflict, the best form of communication is a face to face type, when partners have the opportunity to communicate effectively and exchange information (Plessis, Clarke & Woolley25).
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If the conflict is serious, it is worthwhile to turn to a mediator. The mediator must be a neutral person, who will be able to examine the problem carefully and facilitate compromise and solution. At times, it is wise to apologize, when it is appropriate. The willingness to accept one’s own mistakes is the first step to conflict resolution.
It should be mentioned that there will be different ways of doing things in different relationships. Emotional intelligence is an extremely valuable subject, because it helps to deal with all sorts of emotions during conflicts and disputes. It means the ability to understand the difference between a damaging interpersonal communication and an effective one. Partners must work on their abilities to sustain positive emotions, communicate and experience these positive emotions. It is also essential to evaluate the most appropriate self-disclosure levels in the relationship for its development.
Interpersonal communication is a two-way street or process that should be understood by both parties in their relationships. Effective interpersonal communication includes many related subjects such as individual’s influences and interpersonal communication styles. Even though effective interpersonal communication does not give an automatic solution to relationship problems, it is the first step to ensuring one’s success in building a relationship.
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To conclude, it should be noted that relationships thrive on communication. People should analyze their problems and draw conclusions instead of procrastinating them. Communication helps to find mutual understanding. Usually, healthy relationship is developed through time, partners’ energy and care. Through healthy relationships, individuals can learn vital lessons and experiences that help to recognize their weaknesses and strengths.
Interpersonal problems are a common occurrence in any relationship. It has been established that these problems are built on responses from one partner to the other in relationships. Although problems are unavoidable in relationships, both partners can work on minimizing them by making the difficulty of being known for the companion. By assertiveness and adopting Gibb’s supportive behaviors, it will be possible to resolve almost every complication. As a matter of fact, everyone can enhance their ability to resolve conflicts with a little knowledge and practice.
Interpersonal communication skills and methods are elements that can be learnt by any willing learner. They are reinforced due to their ability to produce the desired effects. These skills are vital in everyday life within the family setting, friends, superiors, and any social contexts, where interpersonal problems are certain to occur.
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