Interpersonal communication is a common aspect of our life, occurring during all the stages of development. Communication as of the aspects involved in the continuum of personal relationships plays an important role. We all are involved in personal relationships in some way, being in the middle, starting one, or ending it. We have personal relationships which differ in their type, nature, and longevity. All personal relationships share a common aspect, which is its reliance on communication.
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The places in which such communication occurs play a role in determining their nature and the way they further unfold. In that regard, it can be stated that some of the places might be perceived incompatible for some types of relationships. Taking romantic relationships in focus, such locations as fast-food restaurants, it can be stated that such places do not provide a favorable environment for the development of such relationships, specifically in terms of such processes as listening and responding.
In the present essay, the chain of fast-food restaurants McDonald’s was selected as an example for analyzing communication in romantic relationships, through the lens of such processes as listening and responding. The essay states that the environment in McDonald’s produces many factors that hinder listening and responding, which creates an atmosphere that is not favorable for the development of romantic relations during their various stages.
Romantic relationships are many other types of personal relationships, and accordingly, they share the main characteristics, i.e. uniqueness, commitment, and being guided by rules that govern the way the partners in a relationship communicate and interpret each other’s communications (Wood, 2007, p. 210). Romantic relationships follow a certain evolutionary path which is divided into many phases, each of which in turn, can have more specific stages of evolution. In each of the stages, different types of communication occur. The basis for the thesis of this essay is that communication, in general, is systemic, i.e. the context affects what happens when people transact (Wood, 2007, p. 218).
Thus, McDonald’s is taken more of a context, rather than a location, in which certain patterns of communication might occur. The stages that can be outlined are related to those in which the relationship begins to form and develop. Although communication is important at all the stages and phases of a relationship, the focus on the escalating phase is considered in this paper. The formation of the communication processes is based on the way listening and responding occurs during communication.
Listening and Responding
The importance of listening and responding in romantic relationships cannot be overmatched. Self-disclosure, the sharing of thoughts, emotions, and experiences with each other are important communicative demands entailed by close friendships (Wadman, Durkin, & Conti-Ramsden, 2011, p. 42). Exploring communication in romantic relationships, it can be stated that both aspects are directly correlated. That is, ineffective and poor communication precedes and predicts later relationship problems, while positive communication influences developing and maintaining intimate relationships (Hyde & DeLamater, 2007, p. 303).
One of the most important parts of such positive communication is effective listening, i.e. “actively trying to understand what the other person is saying” (Hyde & DeLamater, 2007, p. 306). Being a good listener involves showing the other person the involvement and the engagement in the interaction, not necessarily through responses, but also through non verbal communication, and indicators of engagement, such as “attentive posture, head nods, eye contact, and vocal responses…” (Wood, 2007, p. 122).
McDonald’s and Hindering Factors
There are many factors that can be attributed to hindering effective communication many of which can be seen in the environment of fast-food restaurants and McDonald’s in particular. In that regard, the focus is on situational obstacles, rather than on internal obstacles found within communicators (Wood, 2007). Such obstacles can be seen through environmental distractions that can be observed through noise, poor acoustics, distracting sounds, and others. The importance of such obstacles should not be underestimated, where such obstacles interfere with effective listening (Wood, 2007, p. 124).
The typical environment in McDonald’s a description of which is obtained through personal observation as well as marketing means, contain all of the aforementioned obstacles and more. From a personal observation, the abundance of people in the restaurant and the noise might create an atmosphere which prevents active listening and responding by customers, specifically those in romantic relationships. A profile of customers attending McDonalds was derived from observation, including families with kids aged 5-7; teenagers aged 14-16, and employees, individually or in groups, mostly males. Thus, it can be stated that the satisfying the needs of those customers, the restaurants are not likely to focus on the creation of a favorable environment for communication.
Accordingly, we might come one of the most hindering obstacles for effective communication in romantic relations, which is pace. The pace of fast-food restaurant is directed to toward fast service and people who want to be served fast. Accordingly, the restaurants accommodate such purpose and promote a fast pace. For a fast-food restaurant such as McDonald’s, a part of the profit relies on getting people in and out as quickly as possible, and thus the restaurant create the cues that support such fast changing pace. The fast pace in the line for ordering food creates the necessary tempo for faster change of customers. Such factor can be evident even in the type of music played, where “[s]tudies show that fast music in restaurants speeds up the pace of eating: on average, people eat 3.2 mouthfuls a minute when the background music is slow and 5.1 mouthfuls a minute with a faster tempo (Wood, 2007, p. 104). As contrast, it can be stated that in restaurants with table-services, the cues are in the slower music and dim lights all of which rely on creating an atmosphere with no distraction, and thus, facilitate effective listening by couples in romantic relationships. Typically, for effective listening, environment distractions will be removed, a factor which is not possible in fast-food restaurants.
It might be argued that the explained aspects of effective listening and the hindering factor are not exclusively related to personal relationships. The latter is only partially true. In social relations, for example, the communications are not unique and they are less dependent on the context. Additionally, being developed through stages it can be stated that the success or the failure of communication at a particular stage might influence further stages or their absence in that matter. For example, at the exploratory stage of communication people are exploring the possibilities for a relationship, they might be dating, but at the same time, they are making attempts to understand their partners better, and at the same time announce their identities to help their partners learn better about them (Wood, 2007, p. 219).
At such stage, partners rely more on external structure to meet and communicate, and thus, it is rational to select a place when they have a better opportunity for communication and effective listening. Accordingly, at this stage, the communication is likely to require an atmosphere that promote relaxation, rather than promote an opportunity to have your meal fast, and thus, identifying the factors in a restaurant that promoted relaxation is an important choice to make. Accordingly, such factors are clearly absent in McDonald’s restaurants.
The present paper provided an analysis of the communication that occurs between people in romantic relationships, in a fast-food restaurant such as McDonald’s. The paper started with identifying romantic relationships as a type of interpersonal relationships. Explaining the importance of communication to such type of relations, listening, and responding were explained as a part of creating positive communications. The paper followed with an explanation of the factors or obstacles which are considered hindering effective listening and responding focusing on situational obstacles. The factors outlined are the environmental distraction, noise, and the fast pace. It can concluded that the environment in McDonald’s restaurants produces many factors that hinder listening and responding, creating an atmosphere which is not favorable for the development of romantic relations during their various stages. Finally, the implications of such conclusion can be seen through identifying the environmental factors that promote relaxation and effective communication between partners, specifically at the stages when people are at the exploratory stage.
Hyde, J. S., & DeLamater, J. D. (2007). Attraction, Love, and Communication. In J. S. Hyde & J. DeLamater (Eds.), Understanding human sexuality (pp. 282-312): McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Web.
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Wadman, R., Durkin, K., & Conti-Ramsden, G. (2011). Close relationships in adolescents with and without a history of specific language impairment. Language, Speech & Hearing Services in Schools, 42(1), 41-51.
Wood, J. T. (2007). Communication mosaics: an introduction to the field of communication (5th ed.). Belmont, California: Thomson Wadsworth.