The Social Event Case
Use the 404 methods to analyze this case. Rewrite several of His and Her statements following 404 ideas, if the statements don't follow 404 ideas already. It's likely that you will make some assumptions when examining this case - voice inflection and body postures would tell you more about what's going on. State your assumptions and your reasons for making them.
SCENE: An unmarried couple who have lived together for several years have just left a Friday evening social gathering. For the most part, his work-network contacts were in attendance. She was less animated than usual during the party, but not silent or sullen. She's a corporate lawyer and is just coming off a hard week of work. Although he tried not to indicate his frustration during the event, hewas troubled that she wasn't in her usual entertaining mood. He was worried that his business contacts (he's an entrepreneur) might think that she was disinterested in supporting him or even snubbing them. At about 11:30 p.m. she quietly told him that she was tired and wanted to leave. They said their good-byes, got their coats and left. As they walked to the car, he initiated a conversation. Hisvoice tone is even and controlled - there is no overt sarcasm or anger.
Him 1: You didn't seem to enjoy yourself very much.
Her 1: You can always go back, you know. Steve and Paula will be coming our way later and could drop you off.
Him 2: Of course not. Don't be silly. But you were very quiet at the party. What was the matter?
Her 2: I was tired and a bit bored.
Him 3: I wonderwhat the others thought. Steve had told them how much the life of the party you usually are. Even though they aren't my type of people either, I try to fit into the group. It makes life easier.
Her 3: You are always competitive about the things you do.
Him 4: What makes you say that?
Her 4: Well, you always want everyone to like you. You have to be good even at that.
Him 5: That sounds as ifyou don't think much of me as a person.
Her 5: I didn't say that.
The conversation breaks off here, and the remainder of the ride home is in silence. That night, he sleeps on the couch.
Her attitude: I assume her tone is quite terse. I’m guessing that because the content of the dialogue only doesn’t seem like a good reason to have Him sleeping on a coach or to evenbreak the conversation at that point. She must be expressing a lot of tiredness and the feeling of being annoyed and having to justify her actions, which result in a little harsh tone.
His attitude: He is legitimately worried and wants to understand his partner attitude. I’m guessing his tone might be a little insistent as he is containing his frustration, and wants to have clear answers from hislover.
The first exchange (Him1/Her1) is a classical example of by-passing, and that’s the reason they found themselves straight in a position of opposition instead of collaboration. He intended to learn why she didn’t enjoy the event, and she hears “I’m leaving an enjoyable event just because of you”. I’m assuming that having living with Him for several years, and certainlyknowing that this event was somehow important to him, she is able to sense his frustration which leads her to make this inference on his intentions.
Feeling misunderstood, he then asked an open-ended question still using the Explore-Suggest way of discussing conflict (“What was the matter?”). But since she already felt attacked she replied in an evasive reframing way (“I was tired and a bitbored”) that shut off the conversation, while she could have inquired about why he was feeling frustrated (exploring way).
With this attempt to shut down the conversation, the quality of the dialogue is going down and the conflict is rising, as her reframing way make openness more difficult in the conversation. The communication is now a closed one, and therefore he’s starting to purposely using...
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