Saturday, July 2, 2011

constructive communication

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Constructive Communication

Silence can be extremely harmful to relationships. Speech can also be extremely detrimental. The fine line between speech being helpful or harmful is the type of speech that it is. Constructive communication is the type of speech that is needed in healthy relationships. Many families lack constructive communication by either not talking at all, or by constantly yelling at each other over issues that are not important. “We’ve always known families in Zebulon County that live together for years without speaking, for whom a historic dispute over land or money burns so hot that it engulfs every other subject, every other point of relationship or affection.”(8) In Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres, the lack of constructive communication was the downfall to the story’s characters.

Since the Cook family lived in “silence” for so many years, it was difficult when Ginny broke the silence and told her father how she felt. “It was one thing, Monopoly nights, to sit around and laugh at or deplore some of the things that Daddy and Harold did or said. It was another to confront the monolith that he seemed to be.”(11) If they would have spoken the whole time, this would not have been a problem. Silence allows things to progress peacefully on the surface, but it does not allow people express their feelings.

Custom Essays on constructive communication

Silence kept Ginny from having her babies. Since the family did not discuss her miscarriages with people from the town, or even consult a doctor, no one knew about the miscarriages.

“It’s the fucking water.”


“Have you had your well tested for nitrates?”

“Well, no.”

“Didn’t your doctor tell you not to drink the well water?”


There was no way to know that the problem was in the well water, because the matter was not discussed with other people who might have been having the same problem. Also, Ginny’s miscarriages created a huge rift between Rose and Ginny. Ginny was jealous of Rose for being able to have children, and Rose was jealous of Ginny for all the time she spent with Pammy and Linda. Even the situation with the girls could have been solved if Rose and Ginny would not have stayed in silence about it. Ginny could have told Rose that she gave Pammy and Linda extra attention because she loved them as if they were her own children. Rose could have told Ginny that she felt a bit jealous of her, because she got along so well with Rose’s children. Once the two sides were out in the open, a whole slew of resolutions could have been decided upon. Rose and Ginny also probably should have broken the silence about their father much sooner.

Silence was what allowed Ginny to forget that her father raped her repeatedly as a teenager. If she would have talked to Rose about it, then they could have supported each other with the issue. Also, they could have told other people about the abuse, so that Larry wouldn’t get away with it. Another huge problem was that they never told Caroline about the abuse. First of all, it would have allowed Caroline to understand Rose and Ginny much better. Also, discussing Larry with Caroline would have helped Caroline to see Larry as more of a flawed human being.

Going to court could have been completely avoided if the family would have been able to discuss their differences. As soon as Larry became upset, he left the farm. There was no discussion about anything. The children found out about Larry suing them, by getting the papers in the mail.

Caroline said, “We’ve got to go talk to Ginny and Rose today, Daddy.”

He didn’t say anything.

“We need to talk to them. I want to talk to them. I want to tell them-”

He mumbled, wheedling, “We don’t need them.”(4)

No one tried to talk through the problem. Everyone just ignored it until the time came to go to court.

Although communication is a necessity to healthy relationships, the wrong kind of communication is a detriment to those very same relationships. Sometimes speech should be restrained. “Look at ‘em chowing down here, like they ain’t done nothing… I got their number. Nobody’s fooled me… Bitch! Bitch!”(6) Speech for the specific purpose of embarrassing the other party is unnecessary. A perfect example of useless speech was Harold making a scene at the church dinner. His speech went no where in creating better relations between the people, nor did it bring a problem into the open which had not been known before hand. Speech like Harold’s in this particular scene of the novel is not constructive communication.

Staying in silence can tear a family apart. People cannot live together without discussing their needs and wants. When a family does speak, however, it needs to be constructive. A family that screams and fights but never truly discusses important issues with each other is just as doomed as a family that stays in silence. Constructive communication is the key to a family that lives “happily ever after”.

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