HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives


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An example of an agentic friend could be a teammate or a friend that tutors you. In the example of the teammate, you both are coming together to meet a common goal of playing on the same team and trying to win. If your friend can tutor you, then you are spending time together to achieve that practical goal. Examples of communal friends could be friends that play game nights together or a close study or book group. In both of these examples you are spending time and doing activities together and possibly offering emotional support.

Communication does vary with the two different types of friends. For agentic friends the communication implies the goal that is trying to be achieved. If your friend is a tutor, maybe your text message thread is just about finding a time to meet up for the lesson. At the lesson there would be small talk but nothing more personal. In fact, it is usually considered inappropriate to participate in emotion-sharing with agentic friends. For this reason there is less self disclosure with agentic friendships.

In communal friendships, since there is a focus on emotional support, there is more emotion sharing and self disclosure. The activity is sidelined for the communication happening between friends. Since there is a closeness in communal friendships, small talk is passed quickly. A good example of communal friends is the show Community. The show is about a group of community college students in a study group for their Spanish class. They quickly become like a family and the running joke is that, when they meet, they don’t even study Spanish. Instead, they share stories and experiences together.

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