Relational Dialectics Theory - Definition and Examples - Businesstopia
Three terms are important in understanding this definition: opposites, unified, and dynamic interplay. .. "dialectical contradictions in relationship development. The purpose of this study was to identify dialectical contradictions endemic to the postmarital experience. Dialectic theory provides a framework. Relational dialectics theory is an interpersonal communication theory They developed the theory to explain how communication creates and In simpler language, it means that the contradictions are intrinsically related to.
Expression - The participants expressed a desire for open communication with their stepparent, while at the same time, expressing resistance to openness and instead favoring a more careful form of communication due to the fact that the participants often sensed a lack of familiarity with their stepparent.
In another study,  researchers aimed to identify the contradictions that were perceived by stepchildren when characterizing the ways that familial interactions caused them to feel caught in the middle between parents.
The participants expressed that they wanted to be centered in the family while, at the same time, they hoped to avoid being caught in the middle of two opposing parents. The main contradiction identified in the study was similar to the autonomy-connection dialectic; stepchildren desired the freedom to communicate and enact the desired relationship with their parents.
However, these stepchildren also felt the need to manage the constraints that resulted from parental communication, particularly when both parents did not cooperate with one another.
While the stepchildren wanted to know what was happening, at the same time, they also wanted to be protected, resulting in a second dialectic of control-restraint.
Through this study, the researchers believe that openness-closeness dialectic between parents and their children is important to building functional stepfamily relationships. One study,  focused on the relationship and communication between college-aged stepchildren and their nonresidential parents, found two underlying contradictions: Many participants expressed that they wanted their nonresidential parent to be actively involved in parenting them but did not desire it once they were.
Participants also expressed that while they wanted open and intimate communication with their nonresidential parents, they felt that they could not closely communicate because of the nonresidential parent's lack of familiarity with the child's everyday life. Theory applications[ edit ] End of life care[ edit ] Relational dialectics theory can be applied to the context of health care, specifically end-of-life careproviding a system for caregiver communication that contains tensions and challenges.
The quality of the end-of-life journey is influenced by how these tensions are managed. Grief[ edit ] The human grieving process is marked by relational dialectics.
After the death of a child, bereaved parents often experience tension between presence and absence by grieving their child's permanent absence while still experiencing an emotional bond toward the deceased child. Through interviews with participants who had experienced the loss of a loved one, researchers concluded that many of the end of life decisions made by family members, patients, and doctors were centered on making sense of the simultaneous desires to hold on and to let go.
Participants recognized that they experienced tension between their own preferences and the preferences of a loved one, and with that, experienced the tension between desiring to make decisions based on emotions versus making decisions based on rationality.
Dialectical contradictions have also been found among parents who have lost a child. One study  found that two primary dialectical contradictions occurred for parents who had experienced the death of a child: Parents experienced openness-closeness when they desired to talk about their child and their loss, yet they perceived the outcome as risky, especially if they sensed that friends and family wished for the parents to move on.
Participants explained that they were able to manage this contradiction by being selective with their disclosure and taking control over the communicative situation. When dealing with the presence-absence dialectic, bereaved parents experienced tensions between the ongoing bond that they experienced with their child, and the physical absence of the child. Participants expressed that when people were not willing to remember their dead child, the physical absence of the child was deeply felt.
However, when people chose to remember the deceased child, the parent experienced feelings of comfort and continual bonding with the child. Applying relational dialects theory to studying interactions of autistic individuals starts from approaching autistic individual as an actor during the interaction and deeming competence a result of the interaction. The investigation of dialects includes integration-separation, expression-privacy, and stability-change enhance the understanding of the communication between people with autism spectrum disorders.
Dialogue[ edit ] Dialogue is typically a conversation between two or more people. These conversations are what constitute relationships, as communication is the very foundation of any relationship. According to Cools, "the four important concepts that form the foundation of dialogism 1 the self and the other situated in contradictory forces, 2 unfinalizability, 3 the chronotope and the carnivalesque, and 4 heteroglossia and utterance".
According to Baxter, "a constitutive approach to communication asks how communication defines, or constructs, the social world, including our selves and our personal relationships. From a constitutive perspective, then, persons and relationships are not analytically separable from communication; instead, communication constitutes these phenomena"  When initial researchers studied relationships, they found that similarities, backgrounds, and interests are usually what hold people together while self-disclosure is the root of these components.
Dialogic researchers would argue that differences are just as important as similarities and they are both discovered through dialogue. When utterances are "linked to competing discourses", they are considered utterance chains.
- Relational dialectics
Baxter believes that there are "four links on the chain where the struggle of competing discourses can be heard. Baxter also suggest that to understand an utterance, we must also understand the discourse.
She posits "in the broadest sense, a discourse is a cultural system of meaning that circulates among a group's members and which makes our talk sensical. Spiraling inversion and segmentation are two strategies that Baxter and Montgomery have established to respond to this complexity. Spiraling inversion is generally a no-win situation; a struggle between two different thought processes.
For example, if you were to do something your parents did not approve of, you could lie about it, but your parents might yell at you for lying. And on the other hand, you could tell them upfront, and they could be completely quiet in shock. Segmentation is pertaining to more than one role in a relationship that must be altered depending on the situation.
For example, if you were working at your father's shop as a part-time job, he would be considered your father AND your boss. Assumptions of Relational Dialectics Theory Relationships are not linear. Relational life is characterized by change.
Contradiction is the fundamental fact of relational life. Communication is central to organizing and negotiating relational contradictions. Concepts of Relational Dialectics Theory Contradiction Contradiction is one of the core concepts of relational dialectics theory. A contradiction is generated when two tendencies are interdependent, yet mutually negate one another.
It can be easily understood from the above example. Totality Totality says that contradictions in a relationship are a unified whole and cannot be understood in isolation.
In simpler language, it means that the contradictions are intrinsically related to each other and cannot be separated. It takes both opposing tendencies to form a contradiction. Motion Relationships are processual in nature.
It means that relationships are not about a single event. Rather, they are about various social processes that are simultaneous and of recurring manner. We see Joe and Hailie do not feel the same with each other all the time. They move between the periods when they want to spend more time with each other and when they want to be their own person. This movement between contrary phases can be understood as motion.
Praxis Praxis focuses on the practical choices that human makes amidst the opposing needs. Turning points are often moments of heightened dialectical struggle that are negotiated by the parties with varying degrees of effectiveness, thereby resulting in a negative or a positive effect on the relationship.
Existing research suggests that not all contradictions are equally important in turning-point relationship change. The integrationseparation dialectic consistently appears as the most significant family of contradictions Baxter ; Baxter and Erbert ; Pawlowski Further, the salience of various contradictions appears to vary depending on whether the change takes place early or later in a relationship's development Baxter ; Pawlowski Arthur VanLear has argued that dialectical change can function more modestly than the major moments of change captured in turning points of relationship development.
In examining the cycles of openness and non-openness behavior in relationship pairs, VanLear found that cycles can vary in amplitude, with large or small swings between dialectical poles. Turning points capture only the dialectical cycles that are large in amplitude.
In addition, he found that shorter cycles of change can be nested within longer cycles of change. For example, as part of a general upswing in openness, smaller cycles of candor and discretion can be identified. Communication and Contradictions Dialectical contradictions are constituted in the communicative practices of relationship parties.
It is through communication that contradictions are given a social life. How parties constitute a given contradiction at Time 1 affects how that contradiction will be experienced at Time 2. Several kinds of communicative practices have been identified in existing dialectical work Baxter and Montgomery Because of the helical pattern that frequently characterizes dialectical change, it is not surprising that researchers have found two dominant communication practices in the negotiation of contradiction.
In enacting spiraling inversion, relationship parties tack back and forth through time, alternating an emphasis first on one dialectical pole and then on the other dialectical pole. For example, a long-distance marital couple trying to negotiate the dialectic of integration and separation could alternate their week-ends between those spent together and those spent apart. In enacting segmentation, relationship parties negotiate by topic or activity domain, agreeing that in domain A one dialectical pole will be emphasized whereas in domain B the other dialectical pole will be emphasized.
The long-distance couple may decide that Monday through Friday are the days in which their individual lives will take priority, whereas Saturday and Sunday are the days in which their relationship will take priority.
Relational Dialectics | Derek Bolen - kovacsakos.info
Both spiraling inversion and segmentation allow a relationship pair to move back and forth between oppositions, but in different ways. When parties enact balance, they basically strive for a compromise response; that is, a response in which both dialectical poles are fulfilled but only partially.
For example, family members struggling with the dialectic of expression-nonexpression might compromise by revealing partial, not full, truths to one another. Such a compromise would be neither fully open nor fully closed but somewhere in the middle. The next practice, integration, involves a complete instead of a partial response to both dialectical poles at the same time. Given that the poles negate each other, this practice is a complex one. Several dialectical scholars have argued that communication rituals exemplify integration practices e.
Rituals hold both sides of a contradiction at once through their multiple layers of symbolism.
Relational Dialectics Theory
For example, the marriage ritual at once celebrates the uniqueness of the particular marital couple at the same time that it celebrates the conventions and traditions of marriage as an institution. The third practice, recalibration, occurs when a relationship pair is able to symbolically reconstruct a contradiction such that the dialectical demands are no longer experienced as oppositional.
For example, a marital pair might take a break from their marriage—separate vacations, for example—in order to enhance closeness. Such a transformation of the integration-separation dialectic would produce a paradoxical recalibration in which separation enhanced integration rather than negating it.
Common to all five of these dialectical practices—spiraling inversion, segmentation, balance, integration, and recalibration—is an appreciation of the dialectical nature of relating. However, Baxter and Montgomery also have described two communicative practices that they regard as less functional in negotiating the dialectics of relating. In communicative denial, relationship parties attempt to extinguish one opposition of a given dialectic, ignoring its existence by wishing it away.
A pair may say that they are "totally open" with one another, but such a declaration belies the importance of discretion. In enacting disorientation, parties construct contradiction as a totally negative problem which overwhelms them and brings them to a nihilistic state of despair.