Model of Interpersonal
Sender’s Intentions
Sender’s Actions
Effect on Listener
Talk Table
• Gottman, Notarius, Gonso, & Markman, 1976:
Partners are asked to rate intended impact of
message with buttons ranging from super
negative to super positive. The partner then
rates perception of message using the same
• Unhappy couples don’t differ from happy
couples in what they are trying to say, but in
unhappy relationships partners perceive
messages to be more critical and disrespectful
Nonverbal Communication
• Facial Expressions
• Gazing Behavior – eye contact
• Body language – gestures
- posture
• Touch
• Interpersonal Distance
– Intimate Zone – a foot and a half
– Personal Zone – 1.5 ft to 4 ft
– Social Zone – 4 – 12 ft
• Paralanguage
– Rhythm, pitch, loudness – how they say it
Nonverbal Sensitivity
• The sensitivity and accuracy with which
couples communicate nonverbally predict
how happy the relationship will be
• When problems do occur, it’s often the
husband’s fault.
Husbands and Unhappy Marriages
• Men in troubled marriages sent more
confusing messages, and misinterpreted
communications from their wives that were
legible to strangers. And the husbands
were clueless about the mistakes.
• However, other studies have shown both
partners in unhappy marriages have
troubled communication
Communication and Relationships
1. Nonverbal skills determine how satisfying
relationships are.
2. Relationship satisfaction determines how
hard people work to communicate.
Verbal Communication: Self
• Self-disclosure – the process of revealing
personal information to someone else.
• Integral component in relationships.
• Social Penetration Theory – development
of relationship is tied to changes in
– Changes in breadth
– Changes in depth
Breadth Increases faster than depth.
Reciprocity and Self-Disclosure
• Early communication between partners is
characterized by reciprocity of selfdisclosure
• Immediate reciprocity occurs less often as
relationship progresses
• Responsiveness becomes more important
Self-Disclosure and Relationship
• The more spouses self-disclose, the happier
they tend to be.
• Happy couples use idioms
• Happy couples’ conversations are marked by
obvious knowledge of the other person and
• Self-disclosure is linked to happiness because…
– We reveal things to people we like
– Revealing things to people makes us like them more
– We like to be entrusted with self-disclosures
• Social penetration is rarely total, partners
tend to value privacy too
• A healthy balance between self-disclosure
and privacy is ideal
• The number one taboo topic is…
Gender Differences in Verbal
Communication: Topics of
• Women talk about feelings and people.
• Men talk about objects and actions.
Styles of Conversation
• Women speak with less forcefulness (e.g.
“I am kind of interested” “It seems that
• Women often make statements with rising
inflection at end (e.g.I skipped class last
• Women are less profane
• Women are more self-disclosing
• Men disclose more with women than with
• Wives express feelings – so if a husband
doesn’t complain wives tend to interpret
that is everything is ok
• Men tend to interpret a lack of overt signs
of affection as hostility
• Kitchen sinking – drag several topics into
converstion (e.g. it’s not just that you’re always
late, it’s the fact you drink all the time and hang
out with those friends and never clean up after
• Off-beam – jumping from topic to topic
• Negative-mindreading
• Interrupt
• Yes – butting
• Cross - complaining
The four horsemen of the
• Criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and
Good Communication
• I-statements and XYZ statements vs. Youalways statements
• Paraphrasing
• Perception Checking
• Avoid negative reciprocity
• Validate (e.g.I don’t blame you for feeling
that way, I understand that”