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Communication in the Movies: Rainman

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Communication in the Movies: Rainman Everyday, everywhere we go, in everything we do, we see, hear, and use communication. The movies is no exception. In watching the movie Rainman I observed many different types of communication both effective and ineffective. The main character of the movie, Charlie, begins the movie as a very stubborn and selfish man who does not use particularly good communication skills when talking to others: he often does not make a good climate which leads to negative spirals, he does not use empathy, and he easily becomes defensive. In the course of the movie he meets his brother, Ray, who suffers from autism which makes it difficult for him to communicate with others. The obstacle of Ray's difficulty in communication at first frustrates Charlie, but he soon learns that there is nothing he can do but learn to communicate in a way that Charlie will be able to understand. In the movie Rainman, Charlie starts off using a very selfish, ineffective communication style, but learns to participate, observe, and adapt to the situation and becomes a much better communicator. The movie begins with Charlie Babbitt (played by Tom Cruise) who receives a phone call saying that his estranged father has passed away. He goes with his girlfriend, Susanna, to the funeral and is shocked to find out that his father only left him some rosebushes and an old car while someone else received all of his father's fortune. ...read more.


Later on that night, his Susanna comes to the hotel and Charlie actively listens to her which shows her that he cares about her and what she has to say. This warms the climate and his girlfriend is happy. Another important aspect of communication is empathy. Empathy involves the understanding of and sensitivity to the feelings of others. When expressing empathy, you must suspend judgment and take on the perspective of the person you are talking to, understand their emotions, and show a genuine concern for their well being. When showing empathy, there are some skills that can be used to be more empathetic. You can use focusing skills such as aiming your body at the person and using eye contact to let them know you are focusing in on what they are saying. You can use encouraging skills such as asking questions to invite elaboration and help pull more talk out from the person. Finally, you can use reflecting skills such as rephrasing what they have just said or adding an example of your own to show that you understand what they have just told you. All these skills help to show empathy which in turn helps to show understanding for the person you are talking to and strengthen the relationship. In the beginning of Rainman, Charlie has a very difficult time showing empathy for Ray. Because of his mental disability, Ray has a hard time adapting to new surroundings. ...read more.


This acceptance and lack of blame shows how far Charlie's communication skills have come through the course of the movie. Charlie's communication in Rainman makes a huge change, from someone who does not think of others when speaking, to someone who has a better understanding of other people's feelings and perspectives. Charlie's new communication style exemplifies all the parts of the Participant- Observer- Perspective. He learns to participate in communication by showing empathy and using active listening. He learns to observe the person he is communicating with to keep the climate warm and to look at it from their perspective. And he learns to adapt to the situation to make the person he is communicating with as comfortable as possible to keep the climate warm. This movie shows us that even someone who is as bad at communication as Charlie is in the beginning of the movie can learn to be a better communicator. It also shows us that when dealing with someone different from ourselves, possibly someone with a disability that we can learn new things that can help us grow as communicators in just the way that Charlie learned lessons from Ray even though Ray had a different way of communication than Charlie did. And lastly, this movie shows us that communication can get us though difficult situations if we think clearly and communicate effectively; in the case of this movie, it brought two brothers together despite their obvious differences. Anna LaSalle Communications 3: Ranuka May 29, 2003 ...read more.

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