Communication in relationships
My older brother and I have an interesting relationship. I find it interesting because it is always characterized by ups and downs. Sometimes, we will interact well and talk to one another in love. Other times, we will fight and avoid talking to one another for a few days. Even so, we are always there for one another and will provide that shoulder to lean on in case one of us needs it. It is similar for the communication mechanisms between the two of us. There are times where we will communicate well and understand one another, but other times will be governed by us shouting at one another and no one listening to the other. Our relationship has been as it is since our childhood and to a large extent, this is the equilibrium we are comfortable with. I believe that there is no other family member I relate with, in such a manner. However, I believe that my brother stands as my best friend amongst all the other members of my family. A reflection into the type of communication that often takes place between us reveals various communication patterns characterized by the concepts of stage hogging, selective listening and defensive listening.
Our communication is often filled with many instances of stage hogging. It occurs when one only what their ideas to heard overlooking what the other person has to say (Griffin & Bone, 2017). I often love going to watch games with my brother because we both love sports, unlike the rest of the family. Therefore we are usually the best company for one another. There was one Saturday we had gone to watch a local basketball age as the two of us loved the game. My brother often viewed himself as an expert, and he always seemed to know more than I did. I was the same for every sport we watched together even if it was in the house. He would always explain to me what was happening in the game, and he would get angry if he believed a player was playing wrong and when his team scored, he would shove me hard due to the excitement. The problem was that he would view my ideas or anything I had to say during the game as less critical. Anytime I talked about a player’s style of playing, he would tell that I knew nothing of the game and that I needed to shut up. I believe that during the entire game, none of my ideas was heard. It is not only so for this game, and this has always been his behavior for every other game we watch together. I always end up listening to what he has to say about the game and not getting the opportunity to speak or being shut down in case I tried to express myself.
I often feel like there are many instances during our interactions that he ensures that none of what I have to say is heard and that I listen to everything he has to say. This aspect of his communication has resulted in my development of selective listening. I believe that selective listening is one of the factors that keep me going to games with him. Another reason would be that none of my other family members loves sports like the two of us do and he is often the best company to these games because of the excitement he usually exuberates. Nonetheless, I discovered that I needed to develop a strategy that would help me deal with his stage hogging; and selective listening was my best option as it allows me to listen to what I want to listen to while blocking out the rest (Graham & Santos, 2013).
Selective listening has ensured that I do not feel intimidated by my brother’s way of communicating and that I can block him out when I need to (Zheng, 2018). I always love watching these games, and I have learned to interpret them and understand the moves made by players. I have reached a point where his opinion on the game may not cause a significant difference in my understanding of certain moves or plays. Therefore, I always block him out when I feel that he wants to explain a certain move in the game to show that he knows more than I do. During such instances, I will concentrate more on the game and totally zone out from what he is saying. There are instances where I would stand a cheer while he was still talking to me, and he would realize that I was not listening. He has asked me many times if I was listening to what he was saying and I often brush off the question and continue watching the game.in some instances, he will feel bad about me not listening to him, but the excitement of being at the game will take over, and he will eventually forget.
These patterns in our communication do not only apply while we are watching games but close to all our transactions. For instance, there are times during our family dinners that he will outright stop me from talking. It often seems funny how he does it, but I often recognize his stage hogging. I will also exercise selective listening during such encounters by choosing to listen to another sibling, even when my brother is addressing me directly. He always then expresses to my parents that I am not listening. I believe that we have developed and advanced these patterns in our communication over time and that one pattern has gradually resulted in the development of another. I think that if my brother was not shutting me down all the down, I might not have developed the habit to block him out when he is talking to me. I further believe that these patterns are affecting our relationship negatively, especially for me, because I often feel bad when he does not allow me to express my ideas. I have never shown this to him, but I’m not too fond of it when he shuts me down. I may not know how my selective listening affects him, but he has never talked to me in detail about it; I often do it as a form of revenge towards his stage hogging. Even so, I have started to notice that our communication and these communication patterns are slowly digressing towards defensive listening for both of us.
After reflecting on my reactions to communication prompts from my brother and the vice versa, I have realized that both of us will interpret innocent communication queues as a personal attack from the other person (MacLeod, 2016). For my brother, he often takes my sense of humour as an attack. For instance, there is a time we were out for dinner as a family, and I jokingly expressed that he may not look as handsome if he talked with food in his mouth. It had culminated from my parents asking one of our younger siblings not to talk with food in their mouth. My brother was furious and found this offensive. I believe he viewed this as an attack on his appearance when it was a joke for me. He got angry as expressed that I would not like it if someone had told me a similar thing. Even after telling him it was a joke, he remained angry and did not talk to me for close to three days. There was another time when we were watching a game in the house with the other sibling, and my brother explicitly said that I do not understand how these games work and that is why I will not always express myself when they were going on. I was offended because he was the main reason I do not always talk during games as he will always shut me down. It was true that I do not talk during games but not because I do not understand them, but because he never allows me to talk. I argued with him while trying to express why I do not talk, and I was angry at him for a few days. In both instances, we somewhat apologized by taking each other to watch games and one buying the other snacks during these games. We would eventually go home laughing at what we were observing on the streets. I would say that this is how we often apologize to one another. Nonetheless, one can see how stage hogging will lead to selective, which eventually resulted in defensive listening.
I believe that these patterns in our communication usually affect our interactions frequently because one will easily find offence in what the other says about them. My brother’s stage hogging often affects me because I feel that he deliberately views what I have to say as less important. It could be that he also views my selective listening as offensive because he may feel that I do not find what he is saying as important and therefore choose not to listen. Overall, these patterns will result in misunderstandings between us and to a certain extent, interfere with our interactions and overall relationship (Yulisa, 2018). I do not believe that they are healthy additions to our communication, and we need to communicate with one another about them and work on addressing them.
Graham, S., & Santos, D. (2013). Selective listening in L2 learners of French. Language Awareness, 22(1), 56-75.
Griffin, C., & Bone, J. E. (2017). Invitation to Human Communication-National Geographic. Nelson Education.
MacLeod, L. (2016). Listening: more than what meets the ear. Physician Leadership Journal, 3(4), 14-20.
Yulisa, D. (2018). Learning to listen: Listening Strategies and Listening Comprehension of Islamic senior high school students. Edukasi: Jurnal Pendidikan dan Pengajaran, 5(1), 22-30.
Zheng, J. (2018). The metacognitive strategy in English listening comprehension. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 8(2), 226-231.
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