Communication in relationships

A survey on communication in relationships was given to a convenience sample of 25 college students. Some of the results are presented here.

The sample consisted of 16 females and 9 males. 

During the introduction some of the terminology was explained to the students. For the students, English is an L2 language introduced in the third grade. L1 for 22 students is Pohnpeian, there are also three students of Yap state heritage in the class.

The communication in relationships survey included twenty questions. The twenty questions on the survey were developed by Byer, Shainberg, and Galliano (1999) and reported on in Dimensions of Human Sexuality 5th edition.

1 I find it easy to express my nonsexual needs and feelings to others.
2 I find it easy to express my sexual needs and feelings to others.
3 I am sensitive to the needs and feelings expressed by others, especially their nonverbal expressions.
4 My relationships with other people are pleasant and rewarding.
5 When a conflict arises in one of my relationships, it is resolved with ease.
6 I find it easy to communicate with people of both genders.
7 I can communicate effectively with people of various ethnic groups.
8 I can find the right words to express the ideas I want to convey.
9 I am good at interpreting nonverbal messages from other people.
10 I try very hard not to interrupt someone who is speaking to me.
11 I try very hard to be nonjudgmental in my responses when people share their ideas  and feelings with me.
12 When a discussion is causing me to feel uncomfortable, I try hard not to withdraw from the discussion or change the subject. 
13 I try to help people open up by asking open-ended, rather than yes-or-no questions.
14 When I want to express my feelings, I try to phrase them as "I" statements, rather than you statements.
15 I feel that I am adequately assertive.
16 I let someone know when they are not respecting my rights or feelings.
17 I find it easy to say no to pressure for unwanted sexual activity.
18 I find it easy to talk to a potential sexual partner about prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
19 When conflicts arise in my relationships, I am, if necessary, willing and able to make a compromise to resolve the conflict.
20 When conflicts arise in my relationships, I try to find a resolution that satisfies the needs of both persons involved.

The survey is intended as a self-evaluation by the student. The students choose to respond either Usually (2 points), Sometimes (1 point), or Seldom (0 points). The students then add up their score and apply the following rubric.

36 to 40 points: You have developed highly effective patterns of communication and assertiveness.
32 to 35 points: You have above-average communication and assertiveness skills.
28 to 31 points: You have about-average communication and assertiveness skills. Sharpening these skills will improve your relationships and need fulfillment.
27 points or less: It would be very rewarding for you to improve your communication skills. Your relationships would function much better, and you would experience much greater need fulfillment.

The distribution of the students, as separated by males and females:


Sums Female Freq Male Freq
27 11 5
31 2 4
35 3 0
40 0 0

16 9

Sixteen of the 25 students had a sum of 27 or less. Two students scored below 20 and the lowest sum was a six. This suggests that communication skills within relationships are low and could benefit from development.



Females

Usually Sometimes Seldom
n 2 1 0 Avg
1 3 8 5 0.88
2 1 1 14 0.19
3 3 7 6 0.81
4 7 8 1 1.38
5 4 10 2 1.12
6 12 2 2 1.62
7 7 6 2 1.33
8 5 9 2 1.19
9 2 11 3 0.94
10 10 5 1 1.56
11 7 7 2 1.31
12 4 9 3 1.06
13 6 9 1 1.31
14 6 7 3 1.19
15 5 6 4 1.07
16 12 3 1 1.69
17 14 1 1 1.81
18 7 6 3 1.25
19 7 7 2 1.31
20 5 10 1 1.25



Avg: 1.21

The women feel that they communicate easily with both genders, are able to let others know when their rights or feelings are not being respected, and they find it easy to say no to unwanted sexual pressure. The women do not find it easy to express their sexual needs and feelings to others. This may be reflective of a culture in which physicality in relationships is kept private and out of sight, and a culture in which women have roles that do not include expressing physical desires.



Male – Masculine


Usually Sometimes Seldom

n 2 1 0 Avg Diff
1 6 3 0 1.67 −0.79
2 1 7 1 1.00 −0.81
3 2 6 1 1.11 −0.30
4 7 2 0 1.78 −0.40
5 2 7 0 1.22 −0.10
6 7 1 1 1.67 −0.04
7 0 7 2 0.78 0.56
8 4 5 0 1.44 −0.26
9 2 6 1 1.11 −0.17
10 6 2 1 1.56 0.01
11 4 4 0 1.50 −0.19
12 3 6 0 1.33 −0.27
13 4 5 0 1.44 −0.13
14 4 5 0 1.44 −0.26
15 4 5 0 1.44 −0.38
16 2 7 0 1.22 0.47
17 4 3 1 1.38 0.44
18 4 4 1 1.33 −0.08
19 6 3 0 1.67 −0.35
20 4 4 1 1.33 −0.08



Avg: 1.37 −0.16

The men feel that their relationships are pleasant and rewarding. The men feel they communicate well with both genders. Their overall average is slightly higher than that for the women, but the sample sizes are small and the differences are not significant.


The men find it easier to express their nonsexual and sexual needs and feelings to others than do the women.

Women more often communicate effectively with people of different ethnic groups than do the men. The campus has many different ethnic groups each with their own language and culture. Interacting across cultural and linguistic boundaries is unavoidable on campus. The men may be less comfortable in these intercultural interactions than the women.

The other areas where a small difference can be seen are in the questions that focus on letting someone know when they are not respecting their rights or feelings, and in the ability to say no to pressure for unwanted sexual activity. The women appear to have a higher average indicating that they are slightly more willing to speak up when not being respected or when pressured to have unwanted sex.


From a health and wellness standpoint the responses to question number eighteen, " I find it easy to talk to a potential sexual partner about prevention of sexually transmitted diseases," is of interest. Only seven of the 16 women felt comfortable discussing prevention of STDs with their sexual partner. Among the men, only four of nine usually find it easy to talk to a sexual partner. Anecdotal evidence suggests that birth control options such as condoms are neither discussed nor used between sexually active partners. This item suggests that discussions of the related issue of STDs is also not discussed.

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