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Did you know that having an unhealthy realtionship can lead to health problems? So what do you do? You work it out. Interpersonal relationships are unique and special. The Blind Side was a movie directed by John Lee Hancock featured in theaters in 2009. The movie was based on a true story about a boy named Michael Oher who was raised by the Tuohy family. In the movie, Leigh Anne Tuohy, who later became the legal guardian of Michael, nurtured, supported, and helped him graduate from high school and attend the University of Mississippi with a football scholarship.
This essay analyzes their interpersonal communication conflict, emphasizes on the types of disconfirming messages, and conflict management styles.
In the beginning of the movie, Leigh and Michael were strangers to each other and treated each other like strangers. They have no personal reference or connection to the other person’s background. However, as their relationship develops overtime through exchanges of personal information, they develop a new form of relationship known as a qualitative interpersonal relationship.
Ronald B. Adler and Russell F. Proctor II the authors of the text COMM 2: Interpersonal Relationship defines it, “…when people treat another as unique individuals, regardless of the number of people involved… and characterized by the development of unique rules and roles” (p.17). Michael was adopted by the Touhy family and Leigh as his legal guardian. They created a son and mother relationship.
The perceived conflict between the two characters emphasized on the value of education.
Michael is uneducated and does not see it important. He has attended seven different schools. His GPA is low, his grades are bad, and he can not read. His self-esteem is low in which effects his performance in school greater. However, Michael is good with sports and have a “98 percentage in protective instincts” according to Hancock, 2009. Leigh was an educated woman who received a degree specializing in Interior Design, on the other hand. She values education and wants her children to attend a four year college. She wants to help Michael bring his grades up to qualify for the football scholarship and go to college. But after Michael had a meeting with an assistant director from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regarding college. A conflict arises and effected Michael and Leigh relationship.
After the meeting with the NCCA assistant director, Michael and Leigh confronted each other. Michael shouted in an angry tone saying, “All along you (Leigh) wanted me to go to Ole Miss!” Hancock, 2009. Michael exerts agressiveness to Leigh by yelling. According to Adler & Proctor 11, 2011, aggressivness is, “the tendency to attack the self-concept of other people in order to inflict psychological pain by… yelling” (p.344). Michael is going through psychological pain because Michael feels that Leigh took in him in to live with her family only so he will attend the University of Mississippi and play football for her school. She was an Ole Miss cheerleader and her husband was an Ole Miss Basketball player. In addition, the tutor they hired to tutor Michael was an ex-Ole Miss student too. Because of this, he felt hurt, sad and foolish. Moreover, Michael did not give Leigh a chance to explain her said of the story, but instead interrupted and fled. Interruption affected their communication process.
In reference to Adler & Proctor 11, 2011, “interruption implies what the other person have to say is not important” (p. 342). This conversation shows Michael ignoring and interrupting Leigh, “Leigh: Michael, honey, I need for you, please, listen to me, alright? Michael: Don’t you dare to lie to me.” and re-called his name but he just took off,” Hancock, 2009. Michael implies that what Ms. Touhy had to say was not important because he interrupted her. Interruption created a misunderstanding and created more tension between the two characters. Interruptions lead to misunderstanding and hinder their relationship of mother and son. On the other hand, Leigh felt defensive when Michael she was confronted with a face-threatening act. Adler & Proctor 11, 2011 defines face threatening acts as, “a message that seem to challenge the image we want to project–we are likely to resist their message” (p. 348). Leigh was attempting to have Michael listen to her regardless of him interrupting. She wanted to save her self-image and the way she presents her self to Michael. She wants to be seen as a supportive mother who is willing to do anything in her power to get her children to college. She felt it was wrong for Michael to think her as hoarder.
In order to develop a healthy relationship again, it requires time, space and maintenance. The two character’s relationship worked out after giving it some space and time. Space and time allows each person to rethink about the conflict and reevaluate their thoughts and reaction toward the situation. Conflict management styles are beneficial to fix the relationship. According to the text; Gender Roles, Organizational Status, and Conflict Management Styles by Neil Brewer, Patricia Mitchell, and Nathan Weber, “compromising is associated with intermediate concern for both self and others” (p. 79). In other words, if Leigh and Michael compromise by expressing themselves, taking responsibility for their actions, and finding a solution together. Their relationship will get better eventually because they found a satisfying solution for both sides. At the end of the movie, they compromised without any showing interruptions or aggressions and the problem was cleared.
It is important to identify the conflict and factors that influences the climate of the conflict in order to find an effective way to solve the problem in an interpersonal relationship. In addition, I think it is meaningful to better others or myself when they face a conflict with their significant others, friends, or family by exercising the skills of recognizing the conflict in others or by watching a movie. They could become aware of the conflicts that they face in their everyday interpersonal relationships. Then, they will know how to cope with the person whom they are having the conflict either through some form of confrontation to lessen the tension or solve the problem. Regardless if one wants to face the conflict or not in their interpersonal communication, it is important for them to find a way to do it if they want to keep the relationship from falling apart.
In conclusion, Leigh and Michael had interpersonal communication conflicts in regards to their race, social status, and decisions about the college that Michael should attend. These conflict were influenced by some disconfirming messages such as aggressiveness, interruptions and incongruous response. Lastly, interpersonal communication is important to maintain a healthy relationship therefore, everyone should learn how to identify conflicts in their relationship and find ways to solve them. Not all conflicts are bad; some conflicts can pull people together and form a stronger bond. Keep in mind, an unhealthy interpersonal relationship can lead to heart problems. So face and save your relationship.
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