In the film “Shawshank Redemption” there is a character by the name of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) who is accused of murdering his wife and her lover. He is unjustly sentenced to serve two consecutive life sentences at Shawshank State Prison. Andy, a quiet and stoic former banker, uses his skills to make friends with some of the inmates and even the prison staff. Andy becomes especially friendly with Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding. He puts his skills to use to earn himself and his friends privileges throughout his stay at Shawshank until he ultimately escapes from Shawshank almost 20 years later.
Communicating with others allows us to meet basic needs for survival and safety as well as more abstract human needs for inclusion, esteem, self-actualization, and effective participation in a socially diverse world (Wood, 2013, p. 33). Andy Dufresne was introduced into a whole new world when he was sentenced to serve imprisonment at Shawshank. He was no longer established as he once was in the outside world. His survival in his new home would depend on his communication and relationships with the other inmates and prison staff.
When the bus, transporting the future inmates of Shawshank, arrived at the prison all the current inmates gathered around the chain-linked fence. As the new prisoners stepped off the bus several of the current inmates instantly started betting on which one was going to break down during their first night there. The inmates would make their bets by judging the appearance of the new guys; without knowing it, the new prisoners were communicating non-verbally. Some would make their bets based on how physically fit the new prisoners looked or how emotionally unstable they looked.
Red placed his bet on Andy because of his quiet demeanor. Unfortunately, for Red, Andy’s quiet demeanor was a sign of stoicism not fear or weakness. Andy was emotionally intelligent because although he knew he didn’t commit the crime he was imprisoned for he didn’t do anything foolish and instead he kept calm, served his time and waited for his justice. Maybe Andy didn’t show any fear when he first arrived at the prison because that’s the “social expectation”. He knew the other prisons would feed off his display of fear.
Andy’s survival in his new home, and new ulture would rely on communication. His quiet demeanor didn’t last very long. Andy knew that Red was known for acquiring certain items not usually found in prison; Andy soon befriended Red. Andy began making friends with other inmates to fulfill his need of belonging. Although they hardly knew each other, they were able to relate in the sense that they were now both imprisoned and would be spending a lot of time together. They began to develop a shared field of experience. Their friendship was first built on a mutual partnership in which Andy would pay Red for items smuggled into the prison.
After a while they built trust amongst each other and their friendship was no longer about business. As they spent more time together they would share personal information about each other and they accepted and supported each other for who they were. The true value of their friendship was revealed after Andy had escaped from prison and Red was finally released on parole; Andy had left behind some money for Red to meet him at his dream getaway location in Mexico. In the last few scenes of the movie Red finds the hidden money and ends up meeting with Andy.
Red could have easily taken the money and used it in other ways, but Andy trusted Red to use the money to meet up with him. The concepts of interpersonal communication revolve around our daily lives. Communication is the process that helps each of us to gain a complete sense of who we are. From the moment we are born, we interact with others in ways that communicate to us, our individual identity, and whether our behaviors are or are not appropriate. (Cooper, 2012) We must communicate in order to get through the day.
It is very critical to be an effective communicator in most jobs these days such as in customer service. I found this to be especially true as a sales associate at Staples. My job there was to help customers with their needs. As the customers would walk in I would have to create a comfortable environment by dressing neatly and welcoming them in a friendly tone. In order to help the customer I would first need to know what they were shopping for so I would have to ask questions and they would tell me what it is they needed, which was feedback.
I would have to listen attentively to know exactly how to meet satisfy their needs. As I walked with them towards the product I would create friendly conversation asking them how their day was or commenting on the weather. After I finished helping them with their shopping they would be very grateful and thank me for it. If they were usual customers they would remember me by name the next time they came in and we would be able to have a conversation about what had been going on in their lives.
Taking this class while I was employed at Staples helped me be a better Sales Associate because I was made aware of what I was doing right and wrong when it came to communicating. After realizing what I was doing wrong I was able to avoid repeating the same mistakes and ultimately making me a more effective communicator and being able to provide better customer service at Staples. I believe that was reflected in many of the Customer Service Surveys in which my name was mentioned in reference to great customer service. I was very proud to have been able to assist customers who eventually became friends.
Cooper, J. (2012, Feburary 29). Communication is Key. Retrieved from Examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/article/communication-is-key Wood, J. T. (2012). Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, Seventh Edition. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Inc.