Communication Matters

Various times, daily

Communication Matters is produced, in partnership with KUAR, by the faculty of the Department of Applied Communication at UA Little Rock, which is working to foster the co-creation of better social worlds through positive communication. If you would like to learn more about the topics covered in Communication Matters, please email the Department of Applied Communications at

Ways to Connect

Communication Matters: The Forgiveness Tree

Oct 22, 2019

Sometimes, when communicating forgiveness, it helps to think of it with the tree metaphor.

Researchers suggest that meaning is not cut and dried; it is a matter of imagination. A tree metaphor helps to envision the dimension of forgiveness.

It may help to create your own tree by drawing, cutting pieces from a magazine, or constructing a tree from found objects.

Kelley, Waldron, and Kloeber provide a guide:

Roots: Forgiveness—related values—as honesty, trust, compassion

Communication Matters: Apologies

Oct 22, 2019

You’ve heard people say, “I don’t do apologizes.” And yet, most of us have hurt other people, sometimes inadvertently.

The apology works to confirm the relationship and extend empathy to another person.

Martin Buber, the philosopher, says we are human because of our relationships so apologies are important.

A few things Hocker and Wilmot suggest about apologies:

Communication Matters: Layton's Stages Of Forgiveness

Oct 22, 2019

Some of us stew in a soup of anger and cannot forgive someone who has hurt us. Voices demand an eye for an eye. But know that forgiveness is for YOU.

Molly Layton, from Family Therapy Networker, describes three phases.

One is Injured innocence. We cry to the heavens, “I do not deserve this.”

Obsession comes next. We replay the hurt; we recall how helpless we felt. We are consumed.

Finally, we reach Transcendence. We rise above the pain and recognize our part in the problem and release the pain and the desire for revenge. We ask what has this taught me?

Communication Matters: Parent-Child Conflict

Apr 1, 2019

Parent-child communication changes drastically over time and so too does the conflict.

With toddlers, parents may use more bargaining: “I will give you two cookies if you eat just one piece of broccoli.”

In adolescence, parent-child communication may include more demand-withdrawl, where a parent can use their power to withhold resources such as the car or an allowance.

Communication Matters: Sibling Conflict

Apr 1, 2019

Growing up, I was convinced my older sister was the favorite child, and so my communication with her at times became argumentative, or even hostile.

Family systems theorists warn of the spillover effect, where parent-child conflict can spill over into other relationships.

Communication Matters: Step Family Communication

Apr 1, 2019

The majority of us in the US are part of a restructured family, and scholars note that although a prevalent structure, there are unique challenges to the most common restructured family: a step family.

Internally, boundaries are often unclear – can you share sensitive information with blood and stepsiblings? Can your stepfather discipline you? Do you keep old rituals, or change them after remarriage?

Communication Matters: Families And Forgiveness

Mar 12, 2019

It’s true that those closest to us have the most potential to hurt us. If a stranger calls us dumb, it might hurt for the moment, but if our mother says it, the sting lasts longer.

Forgiveness after a hurtful event is essential to maintaining satisfying relationships, especially within the family.

Explicit forgiveness is most helpful. If a parent lied to you, saying you forgive them may be needed in order to continue your relationship.

Communication Matters: Family Resilience

Mar 12, 2019

Past research has documented the conflict common to parents and children, siblings, and even stepfamilies. Thankfully, research has now also answered not only how to survive, but thrive as a family in the aftermath of conflict.

First, parents should teach children constructive conflict management by encouraging them to engage in perspective taking and empathy. Ask children, “how do you think that makes him or her feel,” when they encounter conflict.

Communication Matters: Defining Family

Mar 12, 2019

I'm Dr. Bailey Oliver with the UA Little Rock Department of Applied Communication and KUAR for Communication Matters.

When I ask students to create a story about a family, I’ve noticed a majority are about a man, a woman, and their biological children. But the majority of us in the US are likely part of a restructured family that includes both biological and non-biological ties. So why do we tend to talk about families this way?