Comparison of my personal relationships with two people.
Man is a social animal and every individual is involved in different kinds of relationships with other individuals throughout their lives. Some of these relationships are close and permanent, e.g., blood relationships with our parents and children or temporary, fleeting relationships like our relationships with fellow travelers during a train or an air journey. The quality and type of relationship is determined to a large extent by the degree of 'self-disclosure' that we are willing to put into our communication and on the 'feedback' that we get in our interaction with others. Two of my personal relationships are described and analyzed below with reference to the Johari Window Model and the self-disclosure theory.
A a). My Relationship with my Father have a very close and loving relationship with my father. He has been more of a friend and confidante throughout my life rather than just a parent. He has given me confidence, advice (feedback) and love at critical times in my life. I have also actively sought his advice on several personal and everyday matters frequently. My relationship with him has always been much closer than the relationship I have had with my mother. This is probably because of the markedly introvert nature of my mother who is apt to keep her emotions to herself. On the other hand, my father is a very 'open' and expressive personality who seeks to communicate freely and makes it easy for others to communicate with him.
Although I am not as communicative a person as my father (having inherited some of my mother's reserved personality, perhaps) I find it very easy and natural to open my heart out to my father. This is probably because of his knack of knowing exactly how another person is feeling and putting him at ease. He is a good listener and has such a vast range of interests that he can endlessly hold discussion on any topic, particularly, with me. My communication with my father is, of course, not a one way street -- he, too, is equally forthcoming in confiding his feelings to me. Hence the "open" quadrant of the Johari Window in our relationship is very wide indeed -- both in terms of the exposure (self-disclosure) and the feedback that has been fed into the relationship. The open window has widened vertically at the expense of the 'hidden' window pane due to the sharing of our 'secrets' and our deepest feelings. Similarly, the frequent 'feedback' given to me by my father about my shortcomings and my strengths has widened the open quadrant of my window horizontally at the expense of my 'hidden' window pane.
My Relationship with my spouse
In stark contrast to my 'open' relationship with my father is the present state of my relationship with my wife. I sometimes wonder how the relationship has come to such a low pass since we had started off with such high hopes of carrying through 'till death do us apart.' While trying to analyze the problem, I have come to the conclusion that one of the major reasons for the state of our relationship is that my wife is an extremely secretive person. It may have something to do with her 'broken family' childhood. I have tried to rationalize her feelings and the reasons why she cannot 'open' up more ever since the end of the first year of our marriage but to no avail. Her secretiveness also prompts me to 'close-up' and not reveal my own inner feelings to her. The lack of 'open' communication in our relationship has also led to irrational feelings of jealousy in both of us -- that are probably unfounded. The 'hidden,' 'blind,' and perhaps even the 'unknown' quadrants of the window in our relationship so dominate that the 'open' portion is all but completely closed. I wonder how long we shall be able to continue living together.
Analysis of the Reasons for Similarities and Differences in the Relationships Described above While there are hardly any similarities between my relationship with my father and my wife, there are plenty of differences. To start with, there is hardly any 'open' communication between us. This could be the result of the 'disturbed' childhood of my wife and my own 'introvert' personality inherited from my mother. While I keep a lot of information in the 'hidden' quadrant, my wife (perhaps) has a lot of undisclosed feelings in the unknown 'quadrant' of the window of our relationship.
The diminished 'open' quadrant may also, in part, be due to the unwillingness or inability in both our personalities to accept 'negative' feedback. For example, whenever I try to give (to my mind) an honest appraisal of, say, the taste of the dinner cooked by her -- she, instead, of improving the quality of her cooking is more apt to unload the dishes over my head. Come to think of it, I am not much better at accepting negative feedback gracefully either.
Stages of the Listening Process
The process of listening can be divided into the following five stages: hearing, understanding, remembering, interpreting, and evaluating. These are briefly described below.
Hearing: Hearing is the first stage of listening although some people consider the two processes as the same. Listening, of course is much more than just hearing. Hearing is the act of receiving the sound waves being sent and transmitting the sound waves to the brain. On the other hand, listening includes the process by which the brain translates these sound waves into verbal and non-verbal meanings.
Understanding: It is the act of comprehending the meaning of different sound waves that we hear.
Remembering: Remembering can be termed as the act of storing (in our brain) the information that is being processed.
Interpreting: Relates to the act of assigning significance and meaning to the information being processed.
Evaluating: the final stage of listening is the making of judgments about the validity, value, usefulness, and other aspects of a piece of information.
All of these "stages" of listening do not necessarily occur in sequence, but often occur simultaneously with all the aspects / stages of listening described above taking place in a single mental action.
Listening is one of our main activities in everyday lives but we do not pay much attention to it, or make conscious efforts to improving it as compared to other communication activities such as speaking and writing.
After having read about the importance of "listening" I tried to really listen to a lecture in college in order to experience the different 'stages' of listening. It was a revelation! I concentrated on 'hearing': the sound waves being received by my ear. It was surprising to note different sounds that were being produced even in the relative silence of a classroom -- sounds like the rustling of paper, an occasional clearing of throat by one of the students, shuffling of feet and creaking of chairs while people sitting in the room changed their sitting positions. Then I concentrated on understanding the lecture, consciously remembering (storing) the information for later use. While going through the process of conscious listening, my brain was interpreting and evaluating, i.e., attaching a meaning to what was being said in the lecture and making value judgment on the usefulness of the message being delivered.
3. Specific Examples of Listening Behavior a) Listening in a Social Situation friend of mine (I'll call him Bill) who was my classmate in high school and I often get together at week-ends and to reminisce about old times or discuss the environment, political situations, the morality of war, the directions our lives are taking -- just about everything under the sun -- over a drink or two. Unlike the example of the lecture, this is an example of a two-way conversation with both of us, alternately taking over the roles of the listener and the speaker.
Analyzing our conversations in the context of the listening (particularly our last 'session' that occurred just a few days ago) I realize that I am far from being a 'perfect' listener, especially in a social situation. For example, while Bill is speaking I am invariably waiting impatiently for my turn to speak. I often let my mind wander while my friend speaks -- it is not really my fault since he speaks at an excruciatingly slow speed (about 120 words per minute) while the average listener can comprehend up to 400 words per minute. This leaves a lot of 'wandering' time for my brain. On reflection, I realize that while Bill speaks I am just waiting for my turn to speak and only listening to parts of what Bill is saying. It is also possible that I display signs of impatience through my body language while listening.
Now that I have discovered deficiencies in my listening habits (particularly in social situations) I intend to surprise Bill during our next conversation by putting into practice my newly acquired techniques of 'emphatic…