SMC Communications on Balancing Dialectical Tensions Discussion

  • This Reflection assignment requires that you work with another person (not a classmate). Choose a person with whom you have a close relationship.
  • First verify that the other person is willing to work with you on this exercise. Don’t ambush anyone with the intense and intimate exercises required in this class. Don’t surprise them. Don’t do the exercise with them without their knowledge. You might say something like this: “I am taking an Interpersonal Communication class. I need to work with someone on an assignment. Will you help?” Then, describe how the other person will help. Once your partner is fully informed, and agrees to help, then follow these steps.
  • Print out two copies of the relational dialectics form found on the class website.
  • Teach the other person about the relational dialectics material from your text. It is important for your partner to understand what these tensions are, and how they are measurements in a relationship.
  • Each of you should independently fill out your own form, putting marks and arrows in the appropriate places (see my sample for how to do the marks and arrows). Each of you puts a mark on the line where you currently perceive your relationship on that dialectic. For example, I might perceive my relationship with my mom as very Open, but she might perceive it as more Closed. Then each of you puts an arrow (long or short), pointing away from your mark to the direction that you would want the relationship to grow or change.
  • When you have both filled out the forms with marks and arrows, then come together to discuss and compare your answers. Discuss your answers with each other. Keep in mind that frequently two forms that seem to be marked the same may in fact have meaningful differences when discussed, so be sure to discuss even those answers that seem the same. Try to learn how those differences reflect what each person desires in the relationship. For example, if your partner in this exercise lists a higher desire for novelty than you do, that is something you should talk about. If your partner puts an arrow in either direction, be sure to have them explain what they mean and what they want. Discuss ways to resolve those differences. That is, what (if anything) can each of you do in the relationship to help balance the dialectical tensions?
  • Your written Reflection should have clear sections for each of the following. Clear sections can be created using a numbered listed, or clearly separate paragraphs. Don’t use one long paragraph for the whole assignment.  [1] First, write about whom you chose and why. [2] Second, write about how you asked him/her to help, and how that conversation went. [3] Third, write about what it was like to teach the concepts to your partner and how they responded to learning the material. [4] Fourth, write about how you filled out your form and explain why you filled it out that way. Be sure you are clear about where you put your marks and arrows. [5] Fifth, write about how your partner filled out their form and what their explanation was for that. Be sure you are clear about where your partner put their marks and arrows. [6] Sixth, write about how you two talked about your answers and what you learned from that discussion. [7] Finally, write one CIP for how to balance out one of the dialectics better.

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