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Role of Power

Symmetrical Relationship

Role of Power How Power Affects This Relationship
Both people in this type of relationship have the
same orientation toward power. Both desire
power, or both want to avoid power.

When you are in a symmetrical relationship
where you both want to relinquish power to the
other person, decision making becomes an
issue. If neither person is willing to take control
or claim power over the situation, then
problems can arise. This type of relationship
then becomes a submissive symmetrical
relationship. If, on the other hand, both people
want to take control, then the relationship is a
competitive symmetrical relationship.

Competitive Symmetrical Relationship

Role of Power How Power Affects This Relationship
In this type of relationship, both people want to
take control or have power in the relationship.
Each person in the relationship wants to control
the other or the situation. In this type of
relationship, having power is the person’s goal.

When each person in the relationship wants to
control the other person or the situation, then
the relationship is about who can get his or her
way. The goal is to have power over the other
person or situation. In this relationship,
cooperation and negotiation become very
difficult; however, these are not impossible.

Submissive Symmetrical Relationship

Role of Power How Power Affects This Relationship
In this type of relationship, power is to be
avoided. Both people in the relationship want to
avoid taking control of the situation or making
decisions. Power in this case is unwanted by
both parties.

When both people in the relationship want to
avoid having power over the other or the
situation, then it is hard, if not impossible, to
make decisions or move forward in a situation.
Both people can flounder and struggle with
indecisiveness in this type of relationship.

Page 1 of 1
Interpersonal Communication

©2014 South University

Power Affecting Communication

Let’s look at how power affects communication. Beebe, Beebe, and Redmond (2017) describe

interpersonal power as “the degree to which a person is able to in�uence or control his or her

relational partner” (p. 231). In a perfect world, each relationship partner would have equal degrees of

power in the relationship, but reality shows us that the power equation is not equal. So how does one
person in the relationship gain more power over the other person? One usually overpowers another

because the other person is dependent on his or her partner’s ability for ful�llment of his or her needs.

Personal needs can range from the basics of food, shelter, and money to emotional needs, such as

affection, love, sex, and intimacy. One person can also have power over another in the relationship if

the other person relies on his or her partner for self-image. In other words, if the relationship is a

de�ning factor for someone’s self-esteem, this can cause dependency and a driving factor to stay in the
relationship.

Power differences can cause con�icts in relationships. According to Baxter and Montgomery (1996),

relational con�ict is not an either-or situation but it is a management of ongoing dialectical tensions.

Dialectical tensions are two opposing desires either in one’s self or between two people.

For example, John and Anita have been married for about a year and �nd themselves frequently having

small arguments. John wants to devote more time to himself, and Anita desires spending more time

together. This can be described as a dialectical tension of separateness and togetherness. Envision a
rubber band—the more Anita pushes to do things together, the more John pulls away. John often

retreats to his “man cave” to work on his car when Anita suggests an outing together. Since Anita’s job

provides the majority of income for the household, she feels more entitled to get what she wants. This

feeling of entitlement comes across in her communication with John and often causes John to retreat.

Although differences in power exist in all relationships, the power balance may shift as circumstances

and needs shift. According to Baxter and Montgomery (1996), dialectical tensions are ongoing and
relationships are processes with dialectical tensions. In the example of John and Anita, how can they

manage their dialectical tension? Notice that the question is how to manage and not how to resolve.

How can the couple negotiate both closeness at times and separateness at times? Constructive

communication is the key to help manage relationship con�icts due to dialectical tensions.

In the example of John and Anita, constructive communication would start with focusing on the

problem to be solved. Both John and Anita need to assertively explain how the other partner’s actions
affect them. The focus should also be on discussing what is important for each partner and how these

needs can be met. Underlying this discussion should also be recognition of the shared values that they

have as a couple.

In addition, Anita needs to recognize that her entitlement responses re�ect her power over John in

their relationship. Relationship power differences should be recognized and neutralized. In other

words, Anita needs to recognize that John’s needs are as important as her own. It is important to

discuss their power issues so that they can proceed to have a constructive conversation about how to
meet both their needs. Constructive communication helps each person understand about the other

person’s values and brings new insights into and solutions for the relationship con�icts.

Reference:

Baxter, L. A., & Montgomery, B. M. (1996). Relating: Dialogues & dialectics. New York, NY: Guilford
Press.

Week 4 Project $15.00

Task: Submit to complete this assignment

Overdue – 19 hours ago

Conflict Management

In this assignment, you will analyze an interpersonal conflict. This conflict can be an actual situation that you have participated in or observed or from a conflict situation that you watched in a film or a television show. In your analysis, you will need to:

Step One:

Describe the conflict situation.

Describe the characters involved.

Provide a brief description of the background of the conflict.

Relay the conflict conversation and outcome.

Step Two:

Analyze and describe the conflict by identifying what has happened in the different stages of the conflict:

Source

Beginning

Middle

End

Aftermath

Step Three:

Describe reasons or sources of the conflict such as incompatible goals, scarce resources, or interference.

Step Four:

Regardless of the outcome, describe the strategies that either party or both people involved could have used to more effectively manage the conflict.

Submission Details:

Provide your answers in a 3- to 4-page Microsoft Word document.

Nurturing vs. Toxic Relationships

Relationships are created, maintained, and even dissolved through communication. Beebe et al. (2017)

explain that relationship forming and maintaining is done by both partners who decide on the merits or

drawbacks using a cost–bene�t analysis. In other words, the estimated costs of the relationship are

weighed against the estimated bene�ts of the relationship to determine whether you stay in or leave a
relationship. That being said, how do you explain why someone would stay in a toxic relationship?

First, this discussion about toxic relationships implies more than relationship challenges or failures to

have needs met in the relationship. Toxic relationships are characterized as having some elements of

harm to either or both partners. Harm may be in the form of a mental or physical abuse or an

emotional damage.

Now, let’s examine different behaviors and communications that can characterize a toxic relationship.
Beebe et al. (2017) identify several factors—deceiving, jealousy, criticizing, discon�rming, withdrawing,

and abusing both mentally and physically. Oftentimes, there is also relational violence in toxic

relationships. These authors also claim that “acts of relational violence communicate anger,

frustration, lack of control, and disregard for a partner and the relationship, while instilling fear and

engendering retaliation, counterattacks, and subversion” (Beebe et al., 2017, p. 283).

Obviously, there is a degree of severity in a toxic relationship, which is determined by the degree of

harm to one or both of the people involved. Even when there is a signi�cant degree of harm, sometimes
people chose to stay in the relationship. Why?

The social exchange theory is an interpersonal communication theory about costs and bene�ts that

may help you understand what is happening. Thibault and Kelley (1952), in their seminal book, The
Social Psychology of Groups, explain that people estimate what rewards and costs they would incur
from the outcomes of interpersonal interactions and situations. People have a natural tendency to

increase rewards or move toward situations that seem to have rewards and move away from situations
that are estimated to incur costs. Therefore, in case of toxic relationships, why someone stays in a

severe toxic relationship may be better understood if viewed by the social exchange theory.

In this case, the injured person may be staying in the relationship because the cost of leaving is

perceived to be higher than the cost of staying. If this is the reason, then there is a greater tendency to

avoid interaction with the relationship partner or �ght back by engaging in a similar toxic behavior,

thereby creating a circular pattern that is often hard to break. It is advisable for people in these types
of toxic relationships to get professional help to either break the toxic communication patterns or help

the harmed party leave the relationship.

If the relationship is only mildly toxic and has not escalated to severe relational violence, then there is

a chance that the relationship could be saved. In order to develop a more nurturing relationship, both

parties need to be committed to being open and honest and have a great desire to save the

relationship. The �rst step is the honest disclosure of what has happened and how and why each

person feels the way he or she does. Acknowledging the transgression(s) is the starting point. The
second step is starting the process of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is seen as necessary for relationship repair (Waldron & Kelley, 2005). Forgiving

communication is about authentically communicating one’s intentions and interpretations and by

listening to his or her partner even though it may be hurtful or uncomfortable. Fishbane (1998)

advocates a dialogic approach to couple’s therapy because most often couples enter the therapy
polarized and disconnected. Couples can also become disenchanted because of the end of the

“honeymoon period” where “love is blind” and couples are in the phase of their relationship where

�aws are not obscured and idealized images are fractured.

Oftentimes, the cause of couples disconnecting with each other can be precipitated by a transgression,

such as in�delity or lies or any hurtful acts or talk, and usually by the time couples come to therapy, all

they can see is their own pain. The same thing can happen to people in friendships where harmful acts
and miscommunication can cause people to pull away. Turning away from another, for whatever

reason, further entrenches the person in the “I” focus steeped in the emotions of being wronged by

another. It is only when the person, who has been transgressed, can move past how he or she was hurt

or betrayed, he or she can truly see another and begin to relate in relation and start the process of

repairing the relationship (Fishbane, 1998). These ideas pose forgiveness as having a dialogic

orientation.

Metaphorically, conceptualizing the act of forgiveness as a dance implies that both parties contributed
to the act of transgression in some way and that both parties are important to forgiveness, and, thus,

framing forgiveness as intersubjective or the experience of it emerging from both persons in the

relationship, rather than framing the process of forgiveness as being unidirectional action—

transgressed granting transgressor forgiveness. Dialogue, rather than a typical rhetorical situation

where one is persuaded to adopt another’s belief, idea, or point of view, focuses on meeting the other

person where both are focused on how to repair the damaged relationship and discovering new
meanings or ideas of how to forgive together (Brown, 2011).

References:

Brown, L. (2011). It’s not just about you: A dialogic approach to forgiveness. Con�ict &
Communication Online, 10(1), 12–25.

Fishbane, D. M. (1998). I, thou, and we: A dialogical approach to couples therapy. Journal of Marital
and Family Therapy, 24(1), 41–58.

Thibault, J. W., & Kelley, H. H. (1952). The social psychology of groups. New York, NY: John Wiley &
Sons.

Waldron, V., & Kelley, D. (2005). Forgiving communication as a response to relational transgressions.

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22(6), 723–742.

Stress Management

Stress does affect how and why we communicate. The old adage is when you squeeze an orange, you

get orange juice. Using this metaphor, what happens when we are squeezed or stressed? Oftentimes,

the result is that our patience is tested and we react and speak without thinking. Anger is often about

deeper issues than what we are arguing about. For example, it is common to feel stressed when we feel
that there are too many demands on us—time, money, caretaking, problem solving, and so on. When

we are stressed, our body and mind suffer and it is harder to have constructive and supportive

conversations.

Since it is a given fact that you will always have some stress in your life, the question is how to manage

your stress so that it doesn’t affect your health and your relationships. The �rst place to start is to

recognize that you have the control and ability to manage your own stress. Although the stressful
circumstances may be caused by another person, only you can manage your stress. Stress is a reaction

to perceived and real problems.

Referring back to con�ict and problem solving, remember that the problem you name is the problem

you set out to solve. This gives you a key tip for managing stress. If you feel more stressed by assessing

the problem as unsolvable or debilitating, then you can work at reframing the problem.

Reframing is an effective way to manage stress. For example, ask yourself—is this particular problem

or issue a mountain or a mole hill? Your self-talk or how you think about a problem in�uences how you
feel about the problem. For example, when you say to yourself that you really hate traf�c and that a

traf�c jam makes you feel angry, the words that you choose to describe the traf�c give you stress.

Instead, if you say that you don’t like being stuck in traf�c but you can use the time to listen to your

favorite music, then your stress will be lessened. Positive self-talk is a key for managing stress.

So what is positive self-talk? First, you need to be aware of what you are saying to yourself. Examine

the word choices that you use to describe the problem. Ask yourself, can you reframe or reword your
description of the problem? You feel you have control or don’t have control over the situation because

of the words you use. For example, when you think of a situation as “would have,” “could have,” or

“should have,” you are thinking about the issue in the past tense. The fact is that it is impossible to

“could have,” “would have,” and “should have” in the present moment. You can’t go back and redo the

action. Using this type of language can make you feel helpless and, as a consequence, feel stressed and

depressed. Reframing in this case would be to substitute the past tense verbs with the present and the
future tense.

For example, Maria is a stockbroker in a major brokerage �rm. She gets tremendous pressure from

management to bring in substantial new clients. Recently, Maria received a call from Diane, who is

looking for investment. Maria explained to Diane that her �rm has a managed investment plan that will

oversee Diane’s funds and invest according to a designated investment risk formula. Diane is

interested in the details until Maria told Diane that this managed account has a 2% fund charge each

year. Diane is put off because she has also been talking to another �rm that has the same type of plan
but that �rm is only charging 1% a year.

Due to this difference, Diane decides to invest a substantial amount of money in the other �rm. Diane

consults Maria again about investing a much smaller amount from another account. She also explains

to Maria why she has selected the other �rm to invest the larger amount of money. Maria is visibly

upset because her �rm would have matched the fund charges since the amount was large. Maria is also
upset because she had not asked Diane how much she had to invest. Maria had assumed that Diane

only had a small amount to invest. Even though Maria had regretted that she did not have this

conversation with Diane earlier, she reframed the situation by suggesting to Diane that she can invest

the smaller amount with her �rm using similar parameters and track which �rm provides a better

return.

Diane is impressed with this solution and decides to open an account with Maria’s �rm. Maria is visibly
relaxed with the idea that now she has a chance to win Diane’s business. If Maria had stayed in the

“would have,” “could have,” or “should have” frame, then Diane could have easily walked away.

Reframing changed the situation from the past tense to the future. We can always change our actions

in the future.

The key to reframing is to catch what you are thinking and examine the words that you are choosing.

For example, the word “can’t” implies powerlessness. Saying “I can’t” to yourself creates resistance and

lowers self-esteem. Catch yourself when you think “I can’t” and ask yourself why not. Many authors
and positive psychology writings talk about the power of af�rmations or statements that you

repeatedly and habitually say to yourself.

For example, instead of “I can’t,” �nd statements that reframe the issue into positive and make an effort

to repeat these af�rmations regularly. Positive af�rmations need to be constructed in the present

tense and have personal meaning for your situation or feelings. For example, if you are looking for

someone to share your life with and have been feeling lonely and unlovable, you could say to yourself,
“I am now enjoying the loving attention of my partner who I respect and love and who respects and

loves me.” Though these statements may sound like wishful thinking, when you can in�uence your own

sense of empowerment or can think using positive af�rmations, you can, in turn, lessen your stress and

be a more constructive and supportive communicator.

COM2006 Week 4 Project Rubric
Course: COM2006-Interpersonal Communication SU01

Criteria
No Submission
0 points

Emerging (F
through D Range)
(6-7)
7 points

Satisfactory (C
Range) (7-8)
8 points

Proficient (B
Range) (8-9)
9 points

Exemplary (A
Range) (9-10)
10 points

Criterion Score

Described the

conflict

situation

/ 10Student did not

submit

assignment

Work does not

meet assignment

expectations;

shows little or no

understanding of

assignment

concepts

Assignment

partially

meets

expectations

with minimal

depth;

demonstrates a

limited

understanding of

the assignment

concepts
Assignment
meets
expectations

with all

components

being addressed;

demonstrates

the ability to

evaluate and

apply key

assignments

concepts
Assignment

exceeds

expectations

with exceptional

depth; presents

all requirements

of the

assignment;

demonstrates
the ability to

evaluate, apply

and synthesize

key assignment

concepts
Criteria
No Submission
0 points
Emerging (F
through D Range)
(6-7)
7 points
Satisfactory (C
Range) (7-8)
8 points
Proficient (B
Range) (8-9)
9 points
Exemplary (A
Range) (9-10)
10 points

Criterion Score

Criteria
No Submission
0 points
Emerging (F
through D Range)
(6-7)
7 points
Satisfactory (C
Range) (7-8)
8 points
Proficient (B
Range) (8-9)
9 points
Exemplary (A
Range) (9-10)
10 points
Criterion Score

Analyzed the

conflict using

the conflict

process stages

/ 10Student did not
submit
assignment
Work does not
meet assignment
expectations;
shows little or no
understanding of
assignment
concepts
Assignment

partially meets

expectations
with minimal
depth;
demonstrates a
limited
understanding of
the assignment

concepts.

Assignment
meets
expectations
with all
components
being addressed;
demonstrates
the ability to
evaluate and
apply key
assignments
concepts
Assignment
exceeds
expectations
with exceptional
depth; presents
all requirements
of the
assignment;
demonstrates
the ability to
evaluate, apply
and synthesize
key assignment
concepts
Criteria
No Submission
0 points
Emerging (F
through D Range)
(6-7)
7 points
Satisfactory (C
Range) (7-8)
8 points
Proficient (B
Range) (8-9)
9 points
Exemplary (A
Range) (9-10)
10 points
Criterion Score

Criteria
No Submission
0 points
Emerging (F
through D Range)
(6-7)
7 points
Satisfactory (C
Range) (7-8)
8 points
Proficient (B
Range) (8-9)
9 points
Exemplary (A
Range) (9-10)
10 points
Criterion Score

Discussed the

reasons or

sources of the

conflict
/ 10Student did not
submit
assignment
Work does not
meet assignment
expectations;
shows little or no
understanding of
assignment
concepts
Assignment
partially meets
expectations
with minimal
depth;
demonstrates a
limited
understanding of
the assignment
concepts
Assignment
meets
expectations
with all
components
being addressed;
demonstrates
the ability to
evaluate and
apply key
assignments
concepts
Assignment
exceeds
expectations
with exceptional
depth; presents
all requirements
of the
assignment;
demonstrates
the ability to
evaluate, apply
and synthesize
key assignment
concepts
Criteria
No Submission
0 points
Emerging (F
through D Range)
(6-7)
7 points
Satisfactory (C
Range) (7-8)
8 points
Proficient (B
Range) (8-9)
9 points
Exemplary (A
Range) (9-10)
10 points
Criterion Score

Criteria
No Submission
0 points
Emerging (F
through D Range)
(6-7)
7 points
Satisfactory (C
Range) (7-8)
8 points
Proficient (B
Range) (8-9)
9 points
Exemplary (A
Range) (9-10)
10 points
Criterion Score

Discussed

strategies that

would have

more

effectively

managed the

conflict for a

better

outcome

/ 10Student did not
submit
assignment
Work does not
meet assignment
expectations;
shows little or no
understanding of
assignment
concepts
Assignment
partially meets
expectations
with minimal
depth;
demonstrates a
limited
understanding of
the assignment
concepts
Assignment
meets
expectations
with all
components
being addressed;
demonstrates
the ability to
evaluate and
apply key
assignments
concepts
Assignment
exceeds
expectations
with exceptional
depth; presents
all requirements
of the
assignment;
demonstrates
the ability to
evaluate, apply
and synthesize
key assignment
concepts
Criteria
No Submission
0 points
Emerging (F
through D Range)
(6-7)
7 points
Satisfactory (C
Range) (7-8)
8 points
Proficient (B
Range) (8-9)
9 points
Exemplary (A
Range) (9-10)
10 points
Criterion Score

Wrote in a

clear, concise,

and organized

manner;

demonstrated

ethical

scholarship in

/ 10Student did not
submit
assignment

Numerous issues

in any of the

following:

grammar,

mechanics,

spelling, use of

slang, and

Some

spelling,

grammatical,

and/or structural

errors. Some

errors in APA

formatting

(

citations and

Minor

errors in

grammar,

mechanics, or

spelling in the

initial posting.

Minor errors in

APA formatting

Minor to no

errors in
grammar,
mechanics, or

spelling in both

the initial post

and comments to

Criteria
No Submission
0 points
Emerging (F
through D Range)
(6-7)
7 points
Satisfactory (C
Range) (7-8)
8 points
Proficient (B
Range) (8-9)
9 points
Exemplary (A
Range) (9-10)
10 points
Criterion Score

the

accurate

representation

and attribution

of sources (i.e.,

APA format);

displayed

accurate
spelling,

grammar, and

professional

vocabulary

incomplete or

missing APA

citations and

references. If

required for the

assignment, did

not use course,

text, and/or

outside readings

(where relevant)

to support work.

references). If

required for the

assignment,

utilizes sources

to support work

for initial post

but not

comments to

other students.

Sources include

course/text

readings but

outside sources

(when relevant)

include non-

academic/authori

tative, such as

Wikis and .com

resources.

(citations and

references). If
required for the
assignment,
utilizes sources
to support work

for both the

initial post and

some of the

comments to
other students.
Sources include

course and text

readings as well

as outside

sources (when

relevant) that are

academic and

authoritative

(e.g., journal

articles, other

text books, .gov

web sites,

professional

organization web

sites).

others. APA

formatting is

correct. If

required for the
assignment,
utilizes sources
to support work
for both the
initial post and

the comments to

other students.
Sources include
course and text
readings as well
as outside
sources (when
relevant) that are
academic and
authoritative
(e.g., journal
articles, other
text books, .gov
web sites,
professional
organization web
sites).

Total / 50

Overall Score

No Submission
0 points minimum

Emerging (F through D Range)
35 points minimum

Satisfactory (C Range)
40 points minimum

Proficient (B Range)
45 points minimum

Exemplary (A Range)
50 points minimum

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