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In today's world, making friends and keeping them is important for our everyday lives. Em Griffin's book, "Making Friends and Making Them Count", is an excellent resource for understanding the art of good relationships. He provides a clear concept on how to make friends and he helps us understand our role in communication.
In his book, Em Griffin starts out in Chapter 1 by helping us understand "the rules of the game". (Griffin, 12) He wants us to understand interpersonal communication and the role it plays. He uses examples from certain games to help us understand what interpersonal communication consists of. The first example Griffin uses is bowling. He states in his book that "the bowling model is probably the most widely held view of communication as well. That's unfortunate." (Griffin, 13) He is saying that we cannot use bowling as an example for interpersonal communication because people are different. People will say things and react in all sorts of different ways.
He then tries to compare Ping-Pong to communication. He writes in his book that "Unlike bowling, Ping-Pong can't be a solo game. It takes two to play. That fact alone makes it a better communication illustration." (Griffin, 14) He illustrates that it is a better model for communication because of the process of the game. One player is attacking with the ball and the other player defends the ball. However, he states that "there are still three flaws with the Ping-Pong analogy." (Griffin, 14) He says that "Ping-Pong is played in a controlled environment, that the game is played with one ball, and Ping-Pong is a competitive game." (Griffin, 14-16) The Ping-Pong analogy fails because communication settings are, for the most part, not controlled. The analogy fails because conversations go in more than one direction. The analogy also fails because both people benefit in interpersonal communication.
He finally says that charades is a great model for interpersonal communication. He states that "charades is a transaction." (Griffin, 16) He states that "Charades is a team game and while a team may be competing against other teams, the actual play is cooperative." (Griffin, 16) Griffin states that "Interpersonal communication is an ongoing creative process of helping others build images in their minds." (Griffin, 16) Interpersonal communication occurs in a conversation between two people. The transaction that occurs in interpersonal communication is different than other types of communication where many other people are involved.
In Chapter 2, Griffin talks about the importance of self-concept. It is important to know about ourselves and the characteristics we exhibit. Griffin asks the reader to fill out his self-concept self-survey. Griffin says that the most people's survey lists can be made into two parts. Griffin states that most people "use nouns to describe various roles, positions and groups you see as yours." (Griffin, 28) He then lists his "nouns" in his survey. The other part Griffin mentions is "adjectives to refer to personal attributes or personality traits you see within yourself." (Griffin, 28) He then lists his adjectives in his survey. He discusses the importance of identity. He is saying that everyone needs to have a good mental picture of their identity. He explains that "everyone wants to be special." (Griffin, 31) An appropriate view of self-image takes away our own high expectations and the stress that we put on ourselves. "With a good view of self-image, we can look at others and look into their lives without worrying about our responses." (Griffin, 32)
Griffin explains in his book that people would benefit if they had a healthy self-esteem. He explains his view that "self-esteem is a firm wall made of four separate building blocks- each as important as the others." (Griffin, 36) He explains that "the world looks better to those with high self-esteem" (Griffin, 44), and they can focus on others. Griffin then talks about "The Looking-Glass Self". (Griffin, 48) He explains how our self-image is shaped. He also encourages us to build others up. Griffin then challenges the readers to "Do unto Yourself" (Griffin, 52) by giving suggestions to raise low self-esteem. These suggestions help to raise comfort for those who have low self-esteem and motivate these people to change their way of communication.
Chapter 3 talks about the role motivation plays into communication. Griffin lists in his book that "motives change slowly". (Griffin, 57) As one becomes acquainted with certain people, the motivation that the person has raises when they understand that their communication is blooming with those people. Motivation comes from "the need for meaning" in our lives. (Griffin, 59) This need comes in three ways. It comes from our "need for achievement, our need for affiliation, and our need for power". (Griffin, 60) The need for achievement comes from goals that people set in their lives. The need for affiliation comes from having the desire to create and maintain meaningful relationships. The need for power comes from the desire "to have an impact on others". (Griffin, 62)
An example of the need of achievement could come from trying to win in a race or a game. An example of the need of affiliation could come from a person's heartfelt desire to reach out and make a friend through that person. An example of the need for power could come from a person in a position where he can change the way people think or act. Griffin also describes how differently the disciples viewed Jesus when they examined Him. He describes how "Matthew sees Jesus' actions and how he fulfills the words of prophesies from the Old Testament." (Griffin, 62) He states how "John looks at Jesus and is impressed because of his desire to make relationships with others." (Griffin, 62-63) He then describes how "Mark sees Jesus as a man of power and action and his words pour out his authority to others." (Griffin, 63) Griffin then cautions the readers in his book that "we are capable of self-deception". (Griffin, 63) The people around us in our everyday lives can give us a better view of our motives than we can. A good way to have a better look at our own motivation is to ask the friends around us what they think our motives are.
Chapter 4 then presents the topic of "Perception". (Griffin, 75) Griffin talks about how people like Americans can have the wrong perception of people like the Filipinos he met. He talks about time and the importance it has for different countries. The Filipinos he met are operating in the present while he said he operated more in the future. Expectation plays a big part in perception. In his book, Griffin shows a picture of a woman on page 80. Opinions vary on this woman because people have different expectations. Expectations are also affected by motives. An opinion from someone looking at a picture could go opposite of what that person thinks is happening. "Selective perception also occurs when one person has a stake in the final outcome." (Griffin, 81) Selective perception happens when a dad is cheering for his son in a game. The dad's responses to the calls in the game show favoritism because the person he is cheering is his son. Since the dad has a family member in the game, he is experiencing selective perception.
Griffin then talks about the major impact that a first impression has. We can get so wrapped up at the first encounter with someone that it gives us a false perception of their true identity. Griffin explains how he encountered this situation with a young woman that gave him a false impression. In our lives, we would like to keep a clear mind set. We do not like to question our first impressions. Because of this, many people take first impressions as their perception of the right impression. Griffin goes on to state that "negative impacts have a greater affect than positive impacts because more people focus on things they hate than things they love." (Griffin, 84) He talks about the perception that people have to "hold others responsible". (Griffin, 89) We are always trying to point the finger at who is at fault. We are always trying to assign judgment. In our lives, however, we do not look down our actions. We try to give ourselves credit and build ourselves up. In communication, we need to avoid this perception. We need to stay away from priding ourselves or giving ourselves too much credit. We need to begin to listen to others communicate.
Chapter 5 brings the topic to "Listening to Language". (Griffin, 97) He makes statements about how the words we use have an impact on the listener. Griffin states that "We invest almost every one with feeling." (Griffin, 109) But words are not all of the conversation. The emotional tone in which the message is spoken has a major effect of the impact of the message. Griffin then talks about how "listening to others share their emotional thoughts is nothing trivial." (Griffin, 111) He shares that most people's responses drag that person down. His answer is true. Most people give out their opinion to the one sharing their thoughts. It is important that when someone shares an emotional thought that we listen to them. When we listen, we can feel their emotions and understand what they are going through. We can get a good glimpse of what that person is experiencing. Just being still and listening to that person's thoughts will help us understand their emotions and their situation.
Chapter 6 talks about the role of nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication involves signals like eye contact and facial expression which help people get their feelings across. Nonverbal communication is also more effective than verbal communication. Griffin states in the book that "One researcher claims that 93% of emotional dynamics in a relationship are conveyed through facial expressions and tone of voice. Only 7% is through actual words." (Griffin, 115) Griffin goes on to talk about three nonverbal areas that "define a relationship." (Griffin, 115) The first area is attraction. Attraction shows in traits that draw us closer to people and the traits that push us away. The second nonverbal area is arousal. Arousal shows in the constant changes in our expressions. The third nonverbal area is power. Power is seen when or if each person tries to obtain dominance and this is then seen in their expressions. These three nonverbal areas help to define the status of a relationship.
Nonverbal communication "helps us to interpret words." (Griffin, 117) One woman might tell another woman that she likes her hairstyle, but her facial expressions could say that she is telling a lie. Gestures can show much more feeling for something than words can. Some different ways gestures serve are: illustrators, emblems, regulators, affect display and adaptors. Facial expressions can tell us how people feel about us. Eye behavior plays a part with eye contact. Appearance determines the level of attraction that one has for another. Other factors such as space, touch, voice, and smell also play into nonverbal communication. These factors all play into interpersonal attraction.
The topic of Chapter 7 is the role of interpersonal attraction. It describes the role that intimacy plays in communication. Intimacy is measured from two directions starting with "mere acquaintance" and going toward "intimate friend". (Griffin, 141) Those we become intimate friends with usually help us raise our self-esteem. Situation, personality, and response all play a role in attraction. Three traits that play into situation are proximity, stress, and cooperation. Three traits that play into personality are physical attraction, similarity, and competence. Three traits that play into response are affirmation, favors, and touch. These traits all build into one as the foundation of intimacy in a relationship. They help us to draw closer to the people we communicate with.
Chapter 8 then talks about the topic of trust and transparency in a relationship. It is important to build relationships with honesty and transparency. Griffin explains in his book how hard it was for him to explain the hard truth of his past. In these situations, it is important to be transparent. It is important to step out and start a relationship rather than just being attracted to that person. Griffin experiments with the concept of closeness. He talks about a survey he gave a group of friends. His conclusions were different but he does find out that "the closer the relationship of the friends, the higher the two friends scored on the survey measuring level of trust." (Griffin, 168) Trust in a relationship brings good results. Through transparency comes intimacy in a relationship. Griffin then states the "ten steps in the cycle of an intimate relationship." (Griffin, 181) These ten steps are: "initiating, experimenting, intensifying, integrating, bonding, differentiating, circumscribing, stagnating, avoiding, and terminating." (Griffin, 181-183) Griffin states that "Very few relationships move from step 1 through step 5." (Griffin, 183) However, Griffin states that "the triumvirate of attraction, trust and transparency can buck the trend." (Griffin, 183)
Chapter 9 talks about the role of accountability and forgiveness in relationships. These two subjects play a big part in relationships. As humans, we need support and forgiveness from all of our friends because we all sin. Griffin lists the guidelines for accountability. They are: "win the right to be heard, contact for negative feedback, prevent gross evil, confront in private, and ask, don't announce." (Griffin, 187-191) Griffin also explains the role of tentativeness and its role. We have all fallen short of God's glory. We are all humans and are on the same "level". (Griffin, 192) With this kind of sin in relationships, we need forgiveness. Griffin then talks about the role of forgiveness. "Judgment is pronounced when the person who has been hurt cuts off communication. Silence equals condemnation. Communication equals forgiveness." (Griffin, 199) We all need the cleansing tone of forgiveness. In the relationships that we are in, both people need forgiveness and need to be forgiven. We need God's forgiveness too. We do not need to bring "benign neglect" (Griffin, 200) into our relationships, either. "Paul says in the Bible to 'forget what is behind and strain toward to what is ahead.' (Phil. 3:13)" (Griffin, 201) Time heals all wounds and people can forgive and come back together.
Griffin then explains in Chapter 10 about "the Friendship Mandate". (Griffin, 206) He finishes the book by explaining that content and relationship equals communication. Griffin explains the close friendship of David and Jonathan. In their lives, they maintained their friendship through all of the turmoil surrounding them. It is the same way in our lives. We need friends to support us to the very end. Friendship is a process and takes time to work but it is worth it in the end. As Griffin states, "An intimate friendship has a life of its own that is greater than the separate lives of the two friends." (Griffin, 214)
Griffin has many ideas I can relate to in relationship-formation. One of those ideas he states is self-esteem in chapter 2. He talks about people who have high self-esteem are more likely to succeed. He makes a formula on page 38 about self-esteem. He states that "My self-esteem will rise if I either increase my skill or scale down my pretensions." (Griffin, 38) I agree that self-esteem helps one be more successful in life.
A few years ago, I had low self-esteem. I had not learned about who God really was. I went to church but I did not really know how to make friends. I felt really sad and felt like I was not going anywhere in life. My family starting going to a local church and my view of life began to change. I finally started to recognize who God was and what he wanted to do in my life. As I became more clear about who God was and started studying the Bible, my self-esteem also improved. I became less afraid of talking to people and I became more social around others. My morale improved and my view of life changed. I definitely find that Griffin's assessment of self-esteem is correct. High self-esteem definitely helps in the outlook of life. It helps you know that God is with you no matter what.
Griffin also talks about the idea of motivation. I can say that motivation definitely helps in the communication process. In my life, I feel the need for affiliation for motivation. After my family starting going to a local church, we started to take part in lifegroups. Lifegroups are groups of people that meet at someone's house. They share a meal and fellowship together. This helps build friendships. They discuss topics from the Bible and how to walk with God. As we continued going every Sunday, I became more motivated about making friends with others. I became more motivated to talk to others instead of turning away. Motivation is a big tool in communication. It is the desire we have to go and talk to someone we like. It is an essential component in the process of communication.
Griffin also talks about the role of nonverbal communication. He states that "You cannot not communicate." (Griffin, 114) He also talks about how facial expressions can tell more about the mood of that person than words. I agree with this statement. When a facial expression differs from the words coming out of the other person's mouth, that person receiving the words usually knows it. For example, when my mom asks me about a certain outfit, I say I like it. But my mom can hear that my tone of voice or my facial expressions say that I do not like it. Another example is when my mom asks me if something is wrong, I say "no". But my mom can tell that my verbal and facial expressions say that I am upset with something. In my life, nonverbal communication is probably the most common example of communication that I am aware of. Because of this, I can say that Griffin's assertion that nonverbal communication speaks louder than verbal communication is true.
Griffin talks about the role that forgiveness plays in a relationship. I agree with this. We are all human and will make mistakes and need forgiveness in the relationships we are in. We also do not need to bring these offenses back up later on. As stated earlier, all humans need forgiveness in their own lives and relationships. Earlier in the year, my mom and I went to a church leadership conference. After the conference ended, I went back home and mom stayed behind to talk to a friend. After two hours of waiting, I finally got tired of waiting. I called my mom's friend's cell phone to talk to my mom. When I got a hold of my mom, I demanded that she come home. My mom did not take it well and was angry. I had hurt her feelings and she needed to forgive me. She had stayed out too late and I needed to forgive her. We forgave each other and moved on. We just look back at it and laugh.
In our family, we have also been guilty of benign neglect. A few years ago, my dad accidently forgot my mom's birthday. My mom was very angry about that. She did forgive him but she brought the matter up a few times after the incident. We all need God's forgiveness in our lives. When we sin in a relationship, we need to ask for God's forgiveness and then ask for our friend's forgiveness. Forgiveness helps keep a relationship alive.
Griffin then talks about interpersonal attraction in a relationship. He talks about the traits in interpersonal attraction. Physical attractions are hard to shake whether we like that person or not. There have been times in my life where I have been drawn to someone that I need to stay away from. Only through God intervening, have I been able to overcome. Physical attractions can be very dangerous and should be monitored when we are in a relationship with others.
Griffin talks about listening to language in a relationship. He does a good job of expressing how important it is to listen to others rather than just shut them down with our responses. He talks about the importance of listening to others when they are sharing emotional thoughts. I agree with this statement because the speaker will appreciate our attention and interest rather than our responses that weigh them down. In my life, I have experienced this. There are times in our family where we have struggles that weigh us down and cause emotional breakdowns. When this happens, we have to be there to comfort each other while dealing with emotions rather than giving opinions.
After one family vacation, we had had an emotionally charged ride home and were all very angry with each other. In our anger, none of the blame that we assigned to others made our anger dissipate. The only thing that would calm us down was someone listening and understanding our anger. A major key in a relationship is to listen to our friend's words and react to them with understanding and care.
Prospectus for Growth
Griffin does a great job at explaining all of the necessary steps it takes in making relationships. In Griffin's book, there are many things that can be learned to start a relationship. There are also many ways to enrich the relationships that I am in.
One way to start a relationship is to step out of my comfort zone. Motivation goes a long way whether or not it occurs in a contest. Motivation occurs in various ways whether it is through the "need for achievement, the need for affiliation, or the need for power." (Griffin, 60) I could use this motivation by starting up a Bible study group. By starting up a Bible study group, I can have people with me that are passionate about learning the Word of God. I can use motivation to step out and talk with others and build relationships at this meeting. This would be one way that I could grow in my relationships.
It is also important when I am looking for a relationship with others that I understand my self-concept. It is important to place emphasis on self-esteem. I need to have a realistic but high self-esteem. It is also important to know who I am in Christ. Self-esteem is important for the reception of the ones I am trying to make friends with. If I can feel good about myself, I will find it easier to make friends. Others will see the kindness and confidence inside of me and may want to talk with me more.
When trying to make friends, I also need to remember how much my nonverbal actions can affect me. Most of the time, nonverbal actions speak louder than spoken words. It is important when I am trying to start a friendship that I support my words with the appropriate nonverbal actions. I also need to work on this with the friendships I already have.
It is important that when I am trying to make friends that I react in the right way to others. When others are talking or asking questions about something, I need to make sure that my opinion is supported with an honest verbal and nonverbal response. It is very important that I maintain honesty in my friendships. I need to speak the truth in whatever I say to my friends. An honest relationship makes a lasting relationship. It is important that I have God's heart in my relationships. I need to forgive others and ask to be forgiven. I also need to ask for God's forgiveness.
In communication, both the communicator and listener play major roles. God gave us the gift of speaking and listening to others. Communication plays a major part in our everyday lives. We need to understand the role that friendships play. Em Griffin does a great job of explaining the concept of communication, the importance of friendship, and the "rules of interpersonal communication." (Griffin, 18) "Making Friends and Making them Count" is a great book and I recommend it for everyone.