After leaving my Interpersonal Communication class last night, I thought of the application of communication theory and the entries we receive in our art and poetry contests. One concept is that every message has a content and relationship dimension. When we hear a message, what the words mean is the content. What the person means and the subtext behind the words is the relationship. Let me give you an example with the following dialogue.
Wife: “You watch too much TV.”
Husband: “I do not.”
Wife: “C’mon honey….you do too.”
Husband: “All right then, I won’t watch any TV for a whole week, dang it.”
Wife: “Oh, just forget it. Do what you want.”
Husband: “Forget it! How can I forget it? You come in here and make a big deal out of my TV habits. Then to satisfy you, I agree to cut it out completely and you say forget it. What’s wrong with you anyway?”
Now when the relationship is in trouble, the husband will wonder why they are unhappy as the only thing they fought about was the TV. However, beyond the words, at the relationship level, the real message has nothing to do with the TV, but a wife who is wanting to have some attention paid to her.
So often we receive wonderful pieces of art or poetry and the content is wonderful. However, the piece is not appropriate (from our standards) for our readers and viewers. We are very protective of our students. When we receive a piece of art from an obviously talented artist, but the image is of a violent or sexual nature, even though the content is good, the relationship between the artists and our student readers is such that the poem or art would be rejected. That is always a tough decision, and often we will contact the student to let them know that they have talent, but our contests are not the correct venue for them.
Maybe my connection of communication theory to our contests is a bit of a stretch. If so, then, oh well. However, in either case, I hope I gave you something to think about with either your relationships and why a simple argument blew up into something larger, or for our contests and why a great piece of art or poetry was not accepted to be published.
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