paper1 - Intimacy and Dominance in Interpersonal...

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Intimacy and Dominance in Interpersonal Relationships Nonverbal communication strongly reinforces the nature of interpersonal relationships. While intimacy dictates the amount of liking between two individuals, dominance displays power of one person over another. In any relationship, a level of intimacy, whether high or low, is present, but dominance is not. I believe intimacy is the foundation for developing and maintaining interpersonal relationships, thus more important than dominance. Intimacy can be seen in many forms. It can be romantic/sexual with a significant other, emotional with a friend or family member, or social with a boss or teacher. In whichever case, intimacy is a key component in establishing a relationship with another person. The capability to be intimate with another can be seen as a psychological need to be close and open with others. “Each person has her or his own unique profile of needs and desires which impacts their compatibility with partners and friends.” (Layder, 37) Henley’s contention that nonverbal communication functions to preserve the status quo and status/power differences in interpersonal relationships seems like a vague argument to me since an interpersonal relationship is a broad category. Is she referring to a man and wife, a boss and employee, two friends, or a teacher and student? Each situation calls for different social expectations of nonverbal behavior. For that reason, I agree and disagree with Henley. For relationships with clear differences in power, such as a boss or President Obama, I agree that nonverbal cues are a valuable indicator to display dominance. Those with high levels of influence are given more space. It is a widely accepted and
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established notion that, as everyday citizens, we do not have the privilege of coming into contact with President Obama. He is constantly surrounded by security because of his power and importance to our country. This dimension of dominance in space can be seen in everyday situations as well. In a classroom setting, students sit at a social distance zone from the teacher. The distance created demonstrates the authority the teacher has over the classroom and students.
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