The Meaning of "Relationship" in Interpersonal Communication

By Richard L. Conville; L. Edna Rogers | Go to book overview
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opinions and observations about this discourse. I am judging them and positioning their interaction with each other through virtually every statement I make. Such sentences create an illusion of factuality in (especially written) discussions of others' activities and experiences. Accordingly, I want to remind you, the reader, to test the utility of any of the interpretations I offer here in relation to your own experiences. You also should test the appropriateness and validity of my comments in relation to the representations I have provided of these women's discourse. There is, of course, some circularity in this latter process, because I selected the passages and have written all the textual descriptions regarding their nonverbal behaviors, which are themselves interpretations. Even so, their spoken words are transcribed verbatim here and are open to agreement or alternative interpretations by readers, based on their specific relationships with them.

Finally, I am proposing different relationships and am seeking to make different meanings with you, the reader, than I might in a standard chapter. I am asking you to "listen" to two women talk together and to read my commentary to gain some insights about what it means to communicate in their friendship. I realize that this discourse could remind you of some things that you already know, moments you have experienced and shared with others, and your experiences cannot help but influence your relationships with this chapter, with these friends. Authors define multiple relationships with their readers, consciously and unconsciously. Compare the meanings we make here with the meanings you make in relationships with other authors. If you know me personally, and perhaps are even an actual friend of mine, how does that affect your reading and meaning making with this chapter? What if you are a "perfect stranger?" What if you are critical of me? Our relationship will contribute substantially to the meanings you make with this chapter.


I thank Karen and Christine for taping and sharing their conversation with me and Cindy Marshall for arranging their participation. I also thank Annette Markham, Cindy Marshall, and Sandy Rawlins for carefully reading and commenting on this chapter.


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