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The movie, The Green Mile, is a film that is based on a true story set in the state of Alabama during the Depression Era. The story is told by Paul Edgecomb, who during that time was the head guard on Death Row at the Cold Mountain Penitentiary. The former prison guard reflects on how he developed a unusual, relationship with one of the inmates that may be innocent. The inmate is John Coffey, an African- American man convicted of the rape and murder of two nine year old sisters. The prison guards begin to realize that Coffey has strange and mysterious healing powers that is leading the guards to believe putting the inmate to death would be a terrible mistake. Characteristics of Competent Communication, Cognitive Complexity, and Commitment are three interpersonal concepts that are used throughout the film in a couple different ways. Scholars have been able to identify a wide range of behaviors that are associated with Characteristics of Competent Communications. Despite the fact that Competent Communication varies greatly from one situation to the next, there are many different ways you can deal with the situation.
Shortly after John Coffey was sent to the Penitentiary, everyone of the guards except Paul Edgecomb begins to make racial jokes and comments about him. The guards are certain Coffey, an African- American, is guilty of the crime he was convicted of without even looking at the evidence and hearing the whole story. Edgecomb develops a special relationship with Coffey while informing the other guards that insulting Coffey while he was there was uncalled for and out of line. Over time Edgecomb realizes that Coffey is a gentle man very unable of murder and that he also has a special and mysterious healing power. Coffey is able to heal Edgecombs bladder infection and he also cures the Marshalls wifes cancer. Edgecomb has many choices on how to deal with this situation.
He decided to deal with this by expressing his discomfort in a straight forward way and he also demands the guards to stop. People are said to have the best chance at developing an effective message when they understand the other persons point of view. Social Scientists use the term Cognitive Complexity to describe the ability to construct a variety of frameworks for viewing a certain issue. Over the years, researchers have found that cognitive complexity increases the chances of having satisfying communication among married couples and achieving career advancement. While John Coffey was in prison, the guards on Death Row had many different views on whether he was guilty or if he was just framed because he was an African- American. There were also mixed views on whether or not he had magical healing powers or not.
In the end, Paul Edgecomb convinced the other guards to trust him and listen to what Coffey was saying. They gave Coffey the benefit of the doubt and believed him. Overall they made the best choice by trusting in him and actually listening to him and what he had to say regardless of their views and stand points. Commitment is a feature that that distinguishes effective communication. In other words, people who seem to care about relationships communicate better then others. This care can show up in many different ways, like commitment to the other person. Paul Edgecomb shows this commitment to John Coffey throughout the whole movie.
He was the only guard on Death Row that was willing to spend time getting to know him before making his decision on whether or not he was guilty of murder or not. Paul was willing to listen to Coffey also and not do all the talking. As a guard, he had his own views on whether or not Coffey was guilty or not but regardless he listened to what he had to say and made his final decision after hearing his views and story about what happened. The Green Mile is a movie that incorporates many of the concepts taught in interpersonal communications. Many of the concepts like Commitment and Cognitive Complexity, are used in more then one way and in many different scenes. The movie has a lot to do with dealing with how different people react to different situations and how the interact with people. The movie involves a lot of racial scenes where jokes and comments are said like they are an everyday phrase.
Being based on a true story, the movie can go into a more personal level with communicating and therefore can involve more interpersonal concepts. Works Cited Adler, Ronald B. and Neil Towne. Looking Out/Looking In. New York: Harcourt Brace. 2002..
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