Relationship Analysis Presentation by Morgan Bryan
Relationship Analysis Presentation
by Morgan Bryan
My relationship analysis presentation analyzes the importance of
communication behaviors and influences of communication between
my boyfriend, Mike, and I. I have known Mike for about five years,
four of which we have been a couple, and one of which we have been
living together. Before we moved into our one bedroom apartment
together, we each lived on our own. I can only speak for myself, but I
would say he seemed equally as skeptical as I on moving day,
especially because neither of us have ever had a roommate.
I chose to analyze my communication experiences with Mike,
because I am eager to find new ways to address problems related to
our interpersonal communication, analyze the communication styles
that seem to work well in our relationship, and also experiment with
Since Mike and I live together, our time spent together is fairly regular, but
also ever changing when considering each of our class, work, and social
schedules. To create a sense of accuracy and stability in my relationship
analysis, I chose to analyze our communication on Friday evenings and
Sunday mornings. We are typically together at these times every week.
Our relationship analysis periods* are as follows:
•Friday, November 29th (once)
•Sunday, December 1st (once)
•Friday, December 6th (once)
•Sunday, December 8th (twice)
*Mike was unaware that I was analyzing our communication during Relationship Analysis Periods.
MAJOR INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION
THEORIES EVIDENT IN RELATIONSHIP
The self-concept is one’s perception about his or
her own personality traits and competencies (50).
Mike and I are firm believers that our personality traits and personal abilities are direct results of our
personal experiences. Since each of us have had many different experiences throughout our lives and
very diverse upbringings, we recognize that the other person may react oppositely to a situation.
On Sunday morning, while backing out of a parking spot, Mike crashed into the car parked next to him
while I was sitting in the passenger seat. The only words out of Mike’s mouth were curse words at an
extremely loud volume. I remained calm and explained to him that he should leave a note on the
driver’s windshield. Mike instantly fell victim to the situation and argued that the other driver would
sue him, call his insurance company, and that his monthly rate would increase severely.
Mike reacted this way because of his past experience in a car accident. He may have received feedback
in the past that was similar to his list of fears, which is why he jumped to such conclusions. From my
personal driving experience, the victim in the accident has never personally attacked me or my
abilities, which is why I remained calm in the situation, because I assumed everything would be alright.
A miscommunication is a misinterpretation associated
with deriving meaning from a message (62).
Mike and I experience miscommunications more often than desired. Especially during digital
communication. Text messages can often mean one thing to the sender, as they quickly type a
response before jumping in shower. To the text message receiver, though, the message can hold a
completely different meaning. Miscommunications also occur during verbal, face-to-face
On Friday evening before dinner, Mike handed my car keys to me and asked, “Who’s driving?”
Without much thought, I figured he was asking a hypothetical question and insisting I would be driving.
We each ran through the rain and unlocked the doors to our own car. Since he handed me my keys
while asking the question, I figured we would be taking my car. Since I didn’t respond to Mike’s
question and just ran outside, Mike figured we would take his car assuming I didn’t have a preference.
We both laughed at our miscommunication and briefly stated why each of us ran to our own car. We
experienced emotional implications that caused this miscommunication. Because I ignored Mike’s
question, he made the decision for both of us. In this situation, Mike assumed we would be taking his
car. Eliminating all assumptions and agreeing to be more open to verbal communication could dissolve
any future miscommunication problems.
Body language is the intentional and/or unintentional
movement of body parts during communication that
send a nonverbal message (135).
There are many types of nonverbal communication styles, specifically body language motions, that are
used in intimate relationships. To Mike, a simple facial expression can indicate my entire mood,
especially using my brow and forehead, or so he thinks.
On Friday evening at dinner, Mike was describing a very stressful moment related to his exam results
in his statistics class. As he told the story, I crinkled my eyebrows together in a puzzled, confused, and
eager-to-learn-more fashion. Mike internalized my reaction and assumed that I was either interested,
confused, or angry with what he was saying. He paused and asked me what was wrong to generate an
answer to his internal question of what I was thinking. I told him nothing was wrong and that I was
interested in learning more about his exam results.
Facial expressions are typically used to communicate one of six different emotions: happiness, sadness,
surprise, fear, anger, or disgust. One simple facial expression, however, can encompass many different
Paralanguage is a form of nonverbal communication
that uses voice to convey meaning (139).
There are five different vocal characteristics defined as paralanguage: pitch, volume, rate, quality, and
intonation. When Mike and I are speaking to one another, especially during a disagreement, volume is a
common form of paralanguage that is used. I can tell that Mike is unhappy with something I communicated
when his response sounds more like a command than a constructive conversation piece.
After Mike crashed his car on Sunday morning while backing out of his parking spot, I tried to make light of
the situation. I joked about it for a few minutes, telling him, “Don’t worry about, Mike! It happens to the best
of us!” I also tried blaming the other driver, claiming, “Well, that Subaru should not have parked so close!”
Then I tried suggesting not to worry about the accident because life goes on. I thought I was slowly beginning
to turn his sour mood around and brighten the situation, when suddenly Mike responded, “Morg! Just stop!”
At that very moment, I knew Mike did not appreciate the comedy I was trying to convey. Mike normally
speaks very calmly and softly, but still has a masculine voice. At this particular moment, his response was very
abrupt and at a considerably higher volume than usual.
The indexical function lies within communication relationships to
determine who is in control, the level of trust between the
partners, and the level of intimacy within the relationship. (162).
The indexical function helps determine who is in control of communication in a relationship or which
role each person plays in the relationship. With my parents, for example, I am inferior to their
commands. If my mother asks me to clear the table, I will do so without any hesitation. If someone
else asked me to perform such a task, I might respond differently. In my relationship with Mike I have
noticed that each of us try to gain control at certain moments.
When Mike is driving and I am the the passenger seat beside him, I often find myself barking
commands such as, “Take a left at the light!” or “Turn here!” Mike often replies, “Morgan just let me
drive!” or “I know where I am going.” Mike usually rejects my control and counteracts with his own
form of control during communication to remind me that we are equal.
Through my relationship analysis, I realized that I should not try so hard to take control of our
interpersonal communication. Mike and I both need to recognize that we are a team, on a level playing
field, and neither of us have more control than the other. The indexical function helped me realize
that I need to place a higher level of trust on Mike’s actions and instincts, especially while driving.
The self-disclosure theory involves a verbal sharing of private
and personal information to a communication partner (168).
A healthy relationship involves an appropriate balance of self-disclosure. The more self-disclosure
involved in a relationship, the more intimate or closely connected that relationship probably is. Many
of us hesitate to share our deepest secrets with a stranger, but most of our friends and close family
members know things about us that others do not.
Over the course of my five year relationship with Mike, I have noticed our progression toward more
intense self-disclosure. During the first year of our relationship, we shared mutual friends and saw one
another occasionally, rarely experiencing self-disclosure with one another. Now, there is very little
information about myself that Mike does not know. I realized this during my relationship analysis,
which made me appreciate Mike more than before.
On Sunday morning, during breakfast, Mike was texting with a frown on his face. I asked him what was
wrong and he divulged a very private family matter that induced stress and worry on him. He then
asked me not to tell any of our mutual friends or my own family members in fear that others would
worry, and I gave him my word. At that moment I realized Mike surpassed a level of self-disclosure as
he verbally shared his private information with me.
Understanding is the act of accurately decoding a message to
comprehend a semantic, pragmatic, or sociolinguistic meaning of
a message (203).
There are many necessary aspects of understanding a message including identification of the message’s
purpose, ability to interpret nonverbal cues, the option to ask clarifying questions if needed, and the
ability to restate the message. Through my communication analysis of my relationship with Mike, I
learned that often times when I think I understand what Mike is saying, I actually do not. This sounds
strange, because most people can confirm whether they understand or don’t understand a message,
but there is actually a gray area.
On Friday night at dinner, Mike explained an advertising campaign that his company is running. The
campaign was very detailed and advanced, but I thought I understood the concept of the
advertisement. When Mike finished his explanation, he said, “Morgan you look confused.” I said, “No, I
understand.” Then Mike asked me to give him feedback about the amount of flyers and the colors of
the flyers. Dumbfounded, I asked him, “What flyers?”
Mike was so upset with my response and felt as though I was not listening to his advertising campaign
explanation. I felt terrible, because in fact, I was listening to each and every word he said. At that
moment I realized I should have asked more clarifying questions and reiterated the important aspects
of his advertising campaign to check my understanding.
Critically evaluating is the process of determining how
believable, truthful, or authentic a message is (211).
Critically evaluating is the fourth step of the active listening process. Some steps that can be helpful in
assessing the credibility of a speaker’s message include: separating facts from evidence and probing the
speaker for more information. Critical evaluation is an important factor in creating trustworthy relationships.
I realized that I need to be better at critically evaluating the messages that Mike communicates to me. Mike
regularly plays tricks on me through communication, making sarcastic remarks or jokes with a serious face
when I least expect it. Mike calls me gullible and I call him too good of a liar.
On Sunday morning, Mike showed me his new “Oris” watch. I told him I loved it and he responded, “Yes
‘Boris’ is my favorite brand.” I asked him if he meant to say “Boris” or “Oris” and he explained that the
brand name was pronounced with a “B” as in “Boris” even though it was spelled O-R-I-S. I believed him and
respected his knowledge about watch brands, something that I know nothing about. The next morning I said
to Mike’s mother, “Grace, look at Mike’s new Boris watch!” The entire dinner table laughed, including Mike,
at my pronounciation error. At that point I realized he was joking and I needed to critically evaluate his
There are three different types of empathy: perspective taking,
empathetic responsiveness, and sympathetic responsiveness. All
of which are used to help a listener understand a speaker’s
Perspective taking is the act of using everything you know about a speaker’s circumstances to help you
understand how the speaker is feeling. Empathetic responsiveness is comparing a speaker’s situation to a personal
experience to relate to the speaker’s feelings. Sympathetic responsiveness is the ability to have compassion,
sorrow, and concern for another person’s situation. Through my relationship analysis, I realized that Mike is not
particularly good at perspective taking.
Last Friday, I was having a bad day. I locked my keys in my car and was late to work, my boss was upset with me
over a forgetful error that I made, my girl friend cancelled our dinner plans at the last minute, and my mother
reported a very serious health concern (that I now know, is benign!). All being said, I was in a terrible mood.
Mike could not seem to understand why I was upset about various things that happened during my day and
started an argument over my lack of engagement. I explained to him that I had a bad day and provided reason and
he finally seemed to understand and apologized for being inconsiderate of my circumstances. Perspective taking is
not automatic for Mike, and I believe it is something he should pay more attention to. Not only for our
relationship, but also for his relationship with others.
FACE NEGOTIATION THEORY
The face negotiation theory assumes that during conflict we
prefer conflict styles that are consistent with our cultural frame
and resulting face negotiations (367).
In America, most of us work hard to control our emotions, remain neutral during conflict, and seek to achieve a
solution to conflict. America is categorized as a multi-cultural society, so it is common for Americans to react to
conflict differently than their communication partner. For some, handling conflict should be done in a self-face
manner, with the intent to protect your self-image. Another way to handle conflict is through other-face orientation,
with the intention to protect others’ face at the risk of our own. Some people, like me, prefer mutual-face
orientation during conflict, with the intention to protect others’ faces and our own during conflict.
Mike and I practice very different face negotiation theories. During conflict, I exercise mutual-face orientation. If Mike
makes a valid point, I recognize his nobility and confess my wrongs and if I make a valid point, I provide reasons of
why I think so in hopes he will understand. Mike typically exercises self-face orientation during conflict. All of his
effort is spent explaining why he is right and why the other person is wrong. If his communication partner makes a
valid point to prove why they are not wrong, he changes the subject to avoid protecting the other person’s face.
I believe that Mike and I do have a healthy relationship, despite our
communicative differences. However, there are many things that I would
change about our relationship communication:
๏More verbal communication to avoid miscommunications
๏Less dramatic paralanguage to avoid conflict and respect the other person
๏More focus on the Indexical Function, to stay equal and avoid communication control
๏Higher effort to understand one another while speaking, espcially asking more clarifying
questions and reiteration to confirm understanding
๏For me, be better at critically evaluating my communication with Mike to check his factual
evidence and as a result be less gullible of his comments
๏For Mike, try to practice mutual-face orientation during conflict to encourage recognition
of both parties and decrease effort on his self-image
I would like to share my analysis with Mike and engage in metacommunication. Since he did not know that I was analyzing our
communication during Friday evenings and Sunday mornings, I
think it would be very constructive to share my findings with
him and welcome his opinion on the matter. I think sharing the
ways he could change his conflict behavior and admitting to the
many ways I can change my understanding and empathizing
techniques could drastically cahnge our relationship for the
Thank you for reading my