Case Study: Verbal, Nonverbal, Emotional & Conversation Messages
COMM1101: Interpersonal Relationships and Communication SkillsNadia Khan
Sunday, July 28, 2019
Case Study: Verbal, Nonverbal, Emotional & Conversation Messages Part A
DeVito, Shimoni, and Clark (2016) stated that apology is ones written or spoken expression or act of regret, repentance, distress, or sorrow for having said or harmed, insulted, failed, injured, or treated unfairly or unjustly to another person and serves as a way to repair a relationship after that wrongdoing. It is a statement that shows our remorse over our actions and acknowledges the hurt that our actions have caused to someone else. The apology includes a request for forgiveness to be guilt of an offense and some assurance that the behavior will not be repeated in the future. It is not always easy to apologize, but it is the most effective way to restore trust and balance in a relationship, when someone has done something wrong (p. 181).
If i was Sonny, I would apologize Elena by first expressing my remorse by saying “I’m sorry,” or “I apologize” to start a conversation between us. This is essential because these words will express remorse over my actions (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 181). For example, I will say: “I’m sorry that i treated you disrespectfully by laughing at you and calling you old lady names and stealing your bank card from your purse to pay for my partying ways. I feel embarrassed and ashamed by the way I acted” (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 10).
I will admit my wrongdoing and accept the responsibility for my actions and acknowledge what i did was an unacceptable behavior. This to some extend will restore my dignity in Elenas eyes and will give an opportunity to understand how i made her feel (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 181). For example, I will say: “I know that I have hurt your feelings by treating you badly and bulling you and the entire family. I am sure this has embarrassed you, especially at this old age. I am sorry that my actions upset you and treated you disrespectfully” (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 7).
I will be as specific as possible while apologizing to Elena and will try to avoid general terms to make the situation right. Apologizing specifically for my inappropriate behavior will more likely be meaningful to her because it will show that i have paid attention to the situation that I have hurt her (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 182). For example, I will say: I am deeply very sorry for hurting your feelings by inviting my friends over for alcohol and playing loud music into early hours of morning and leaving the house in utter turmoil with empty beer bottles and cigarette butts scattered throughout. I regret disrespecting you by laughing at you and calling you old lady names and stealing your bank card from your purse to pay for my partying ways. I wish I had been more thoughtful (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 9-10).
I will express my empathy towards Elena and will acknowledge the hurt or damage that i did by putting myself in her shoes and imagine how she felt. I will acknowledge her feelings as real and valued (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 182). For example, I will say: I am sorry for hurting your feelings constantly by avoiding and turning away from you. I feel terrible about disrespecting you and causing you pain (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 9).
I will avoid using excuses to justify my actions while apologizing to Elena as it will weaken and negate the meaning of my apology and my apology may be perceived as insincere (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 182). For example, I will say: I am sorry for treating the entire family badly by bulling them and hurting your feelings by disrespecting you (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 7).
I will give assurance to her that i will not repeat the action or behavior and will change my behavior to make the situation right. This will rebuild the trust and repair the raptured relationship and will move our relationship to a deeper level of respect, harmony, and care for one another (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 182). For example, I will say: I deeply regret hurting your feelings by calling my friends over for alcohol and laughing at you by calling you old lady names. I should never have stolen your card from your purse to pay for my partying ways. From now on, I will not repeat this behavior and I want you to call me out if I do this again” (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 9-10).
I will apologize Elena in person as it will be much easier for me to convey my sincerity through verbal and nonverbal communication such as my body language, facial expressions, and gestures. By doing so, I will feel a sense of relief and will come out clean about my actions before her and will help in restoring my integrity in her eyes (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 182). For example, I will hold her hands and look into her eyes and say: I am really very sorry for all my disrespectful behavior. I am deeply hurt by the act of stealing your bank card, teasing you in front of my friends, drinking alcohol and turning away from you whenever you have tried to talk to me (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 9-10).
According to DeVito et al. (2016), advice is a form of giving an opinion,
recommendation, suggestion, information or guidance about certain situation relayed in some context to another person, group or party about what to do or how to act or behave in a particular situation. For example, advising a friend to change his/her way of looking at things in a negative manner or advising him/her to go back to school and take certain courses (p. 184).
Tricia: Hi Mom, How are you doing?
Elena: I am doing okay, not so great, thanks.
Tricia: Mom, you look upset. What’s the matter? Is something bothering you?
Elena: You know what? Actually, I am not doing great.
Tricia: I knew it. I also wanted to share something which is bothering me too since the time I have come home.
Elena: Really? What is it?
Tricia: I will tell you after knowing your worries. So, tell me Mom, what happened? Help me understand more about what you are feeling.
Elena: The thing is that I am tensed for Sonny. He has changed a lot after your Fathers death. He was never like this before.
Elena: He disrespects me every day. In fact, very often he calls his friends over for alcohol and they continue the whole night by playing loud music.
Elena: Yeh. Not only this, but he has also stolen my bank card to pay for his partying ways and other expenses. His friends and him teases me and calls me old lady names.
Elena: Yeh. I have tried to talk to him many times, but he always turns away from me and never faces me. I do not understand how to talk to him about his disrespectful behavior and express how hurt and I feel because of his behavior. Can you advise me as to how should I handle Sonnys behavior? Can you give me some tips to talk to Sonny about his disrespectful behavior towards me?
Tricia: I can understand what you are feeling at this point of time. I think he is going through some tough time at the moment which he is not expressing to you or me. But if we both could sit down with him and talk to him to see whats happening, then it might be possible that he can open up with us.
Elena: Do you really think this way will work?
Tricia: Well, I think it might work because it is not only you, but I have also noticed his behavior from past few days and this was the same thing I wanted to talk to you as I mentioned earlier.
Elena: Oh, Really?
Tricia: Yes. It was shocking for me to see such kind of his behavior, but I think there can be a possibility of he is frustrated because currently he does not have a job and has short of money to even pay for his basic needs. Having no job and money can tense and frustrate a person in a way that he might get into bad habits like drinking, stealing, and make him angry every now and then. Also, I think that he still must have not recovered from Dads unexpected death. Being the eldest son of the family, it must have been frustrating for him to take care of the whole family alone at a young age. When some people can not handle too many things at one time, they usually get frustrated and angry very often. Their behavior changes because of which they start misbehaving unintentionally.
Tricia: I think talking to him will allow him to express his feelings and will open up whatever is bothering him inside. Do you agree to this?
Elena: Yes I do.
Tricia: Great, we both will try our level best to allow him to vent his feelings. If this does not work, then if need be, we can take Sonny to see someone professional, say, a therapist, who will sit down and talk with him.
Elena: That sounds like a good idea. But will that really help him to talk about why is he behaving in such a way?
Tricia: It could be one solution Mom. By Sonny talking to a therapist will not only open him up to the therapist of whats bothering him, but also it could help him recover from his bad habits of drinking, stealing and disrespecting.
Elena: These 2 solutions do sound good, but I hope that Sonny actually speaks to us, and if he does it will bring tears in my eyes. I want to see him happy and I dont think he is happy.
Tricia: Do not worry Mom, I am here with you, I will help you with Sonnys situation. I am really feeling bad for all the problems and troubles you are going through. But, I love you Mom, and I will stand by you no matter what way you pick to help Sonny.
Elena: Thanks Tricia, Mom loves you so much. Thank you for all your great solutions, and I appreciate you standing by me during my hard times.
Tricia: I love you too Mom.
According to DeVito et al. (2016), grief is a multifarious or varied response, behavior or
expression of deep sorrow especially after the death of a close relation or friend or other serious loss. For example, a person may experience grief because of death of a loved one, serious illness/loss of health, loss of job, loss of physical or mental abilities, loss of material possessions etc. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be (p. 162). After getting to know about the huge loss of Elenas family, I will reach out to Elena and act as normally as possible because there is no right thing to say when someone is in emotional pain. I will only say things that are sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient and accepting. As actions speak louder than words, small little gestures like a great big hug or a gentle pat on her hand or an arm around her shoulder can go a long way in making Elena feel less alone (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 162). For example, I will gently pat on her hand and say: I am sorry to hear about your husband and youngest son. I know that you are feeling very lonely at the moment and it is tough for you to be hard right now (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 7-8).
After meeting her, I will sit beside her silently to comfort her and listen to her by making eye contact and nod occasionally. I will let her grief in the ways that she feels most comfortable without interjecting her like crying or talking because there is no normal grieving period, and everyone reacts differently to a loss. I will make very short comments when necessary and avoid saying things which may come across as insensitive (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 162). For example, I will say: I am really sorry for your loss. But if you want to talk to me in the ways you are comfortable with, I am there to listen to you whenever you want.
Being a good friend of Elena, I will encourage her to express or talk about her grief, as death of a spouse and son is usually a powerful loss and learning to live without them may be harder than one would expect as the days, months and years after them will never be the same. I will not force her to talk about her feelings as memories might remind her of her loss and increase her pain further (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 163). For example, I will say: I am so sorry for your loss. I know its hard for you to talk or express your feelings, but you feel free to talk to me about anything now, or whenever you want to.
I will be sensitive and leave her alone if she is not ready to talk more and wants some private time, as not necessarily she wants affection or support but rather she can deal better with things alone and may want to be left alone after talking about her grief (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 163). For example, I will say: I am so sorry for your loss. I am there for you whenever you want to talk whenever you are ready and comfortable.
I will empathize with Elena and let her know that I care for her and am available for her whenever she needs me. To comfort her, I will continue to support her by following up on her to check how she is feeling like texting her or calling her on regular basis. Small gestures like sending bouquet of flowers or postcards will also take some of her pain away (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 163). For example, I will say: I am sorry for your loss. You can feel free to reach out to me if you ever need anything.
To distract her from the grief, I will make an effort to clear up my schedule and devote more time to be there for Elena. I will try to keep her busy by getting her out of the house into some fresh air for a walk or register ourselves for yoga classes or go out for lunch or dinner or enjoy movie together. This will do good physically and mentally not only to her but also to me as well (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 163).
According to DeVito et al. (2016), anger is a natural, basic, normal, and healthy human
emotion that everybody experiences from time to time when we feel frustrated, attacked, deceived or when unfairly treated. The experience of anger widely varies for each person like how often he/she gets angry, how intensely he/she feels when in anger and how long the anger lasts for her/him. People also vary while experiencing anger like some people always get angry while some rarely get angry, some people are well aware of their anger while some fail to recognize their anger when it occurs, some people are comfortable dealing with their anger while it is difficult for some to express and deal with it. As anger being a common and unavoidable emotion, it can be constructive or destructive. If managed properly, anger can be constructive and useful like it may help in identifying problems that are bothering, it motivates to achieve the goals and energizes to fight or flee. On the other hand, anger can be harmful and destructive as it can be detrimental to health like it may increase the pulse rate and blood pressure, can impair the immune system, can give sleep and digestion problems however impacting negatively to the overall physical and mental health (p. 161).
The possible explanation about Sonny expressing his anger ineffectively could be that for one,
since Sonny lost his Dad at a young age, being the eldest son in the family, it meant that Sonny had to be the man of the house and whole household responsibility came on him which could have caused mental illness and depression for him to handle and take care of everyone in the family along with other responsibilities (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 8). Another reason for Sonnys anger could be the loss of his job and no money, as someone who does not have a job and has no money to fulfill even his basic needs, tends to get frustrated and angry every now and then due to insecurity. Since Sonny was not working, he used to steal his Mothers bank card to pay for his expenses (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 10). Furthermore, addiction of alcohol and substance abuse can also impact your mental abilities and overall thinking power. Since Sonny was influenced of alcohol, he had impaired judgement and was treating Elena and Tricia with disrespect (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 9-11).
According to DeVito et al. (2016), nonverbal communication is the nonlinguistic
transmission or transference of messages or information or signals though nonverbal behaviors and cues like gestures, eye contact, posture, facial expressions, touch, silence (p. 125).
Eye Avoidance is an intimation or signal to another person stating lack of interest in what that person is saying, or they have other things going on around their mind which is distracting them to listen to what you are saying (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 129). During Elenas interaction with Sonny when asking him about his disrespectful behavior, Sonny avoided Elenas eyes showing lack of interest to communicate with her about the topic and his behaviour (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 9).
Touch Avoidance is a form of nonverbal communication where people do not like to be touched depending on certain situations or circumstances (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 135). During Elenas interaction with Sonny, he turned away from her and left the house when Elena tried to reach out to hold Sonny to ask him for his disrespectful behavior (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 9).
Silence sometimes can do better than words as it passes our messages across in less or fewer words where a person gets time to think, plan, prepare and produce his/her verbal communication (DeVito et al., 2016, p. 137). During Elenas interaction with Sonny when asking him about his disrespectful behavior, Sonny avoided his eye contact with Elena showing disinterest and stood in the living room quietly for a long time (Elder Abuse, 2019, para. 9).
DeVito, J. A., Shimoni, R., & Clark, D. (2016). Messages: Building interpersonal communication skills (5th Canadian ed.). Toronto, Canada: Pearson
Elder abuse [Case Study 2]. (2019). Retrieved from