The basic process of interpersonal relationships and communicative interactions with
others is based primarily on emotions. In the film "Good Will Hunting", the characters
experience many emotions that impact their interpersonal relationships and communicative
interactions. Taking into consideration that each character grew up with a different lifestyle,
their interpersonal relationships and communicative interactions are affected in their
continuing years. The film allows us to see different personalities in each character and how
their emotions affect how they communicate.
Characters in the movie Good Will Hunting express a great deal of nonverbal
communication. It is one of the key aspects of communication. The characters demonstrate
nonverbal communication by proxemics, physical attractiveness, territoriality and
paralanguage among many others. Will and Skylar share a lot of these by a communicative
value that is intentional. When Will and Skylar first meet, they communicate using all of these
attributes including physical attractiveness. In addition, as they get to know one another they
continue to share all of these communicative values and include haptics as a way they
communicate as well as increase their level of proximity as they become more intimate in their
relationship. Will and his therapist Sean Maguire, during counseling, share communicative
value including proxemics, territoriality, paralanguage, regulators and kinesics. Will and Sean
keep a social distance while communicating. After a few weeks of getting to know one another,
they also experience communication through haptics. After Will reaches such a dramatic
emotional decline, Sean reassures Will that his emotional instability is not his fault. Will and
Sean then hug each other and experience a calming sense of communication.
The concept of mindless vs. mindful listening is also used within the movie. Will
identifies a repeated amount of mindless listening. Will reacts to the professor's math
problems, even though he is not one of his students. He does this routinely and almost
seemingly unconsciously with very little effort. He filters out the professor's on-going
mathematical challenges that don’t require such careful attention as they would with others.
Sean Maguire, Will’s therapist, expresses a large amount of mindful listening. He assesses Will
giving thoughtful attention and feedback on what is going on in his life. He gives his undivided
attention to Will, trying to listen and understand him. Mindless and mindful listening can have a
large impact on the way individuals communicate.
Other significant themes in the film are poor listening habits. Defensive listening, the
practice of perceiving remarks made by another as a personal attack, is a natural
communicative interaction that Will has acquired throughout his childhood. In the film, Will is
not psychologically stable, therefore he doesn't know what he really wants. Will has a specific
psychological strategy that allows him to cope with reality and maintain his self-image. He
displays paranoia and an irrational distrust towards others and analyzes into every word that is
being said to try to decipher if it is a personal insult directed towards him. His unintentional
defense mechanism is persistent due to things that happened throughout his life, resulting in
abnormal behavior and constantly pushing others away. Will was physically and emotionally
abused in his childhood years. Eventually, Will's physical and mental health is unfavorable to his
interests and well-being later in life. Another example of poor listening habits is stage hogging.
Will only cares about expressing his own ideas and doesn't care about what anyone else has to
say. Will also illustrates a great deal of poor listening habits by pseudolistening, rehearsing and
interrupting. He does this a lot...
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