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Interpersonal Communication Dynamics in “The Break-Up” by Reed


For communication to be effective, the parties involved must embrace mutual feelings, opinions, and thoughts to achieve common ground. The absence of effective communication in any relationship causes significant confrontations. As evident in the film The Breakup, Greg and Brook illustrate how the inability to listen actively, nonverbal communication, and poor problem-solving result in constant misunderstandings and disagreements.

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Plot Summary

The film The Breakup surrounds on showing how poor communication is central to the death of relationships. It gives the complications encountered by Brook, an art gallery manager living with her boyfriend, Greg. The relationship between the two started after meeting in a baseball game and falling in love. Throughout the film, Brook feels unappreciated, which becomes the cause for the endless problems between Brook and Greg.

Inability to Actively Listen

In the definition by Wilkins et al., active listening is a process with two steps: asking the right questions and using empathetic comments to demonstrate understanding (435). The level of poor communication between Brook and Greg leads Brook to feel both neglected and unappreciated. The leading cause for this inability is Greg’s difficulty in effectively responding to Brook’s concerns in the relationship. Greg tends to listen to what Brook says selectively and, with this, ineffectively misunderstands what Brook requires of him in their conversations. For example, when Brook asks Greg to bring her twelve lemons, he selectively chooses to bring three lemons. Another example that shows how Greg fails in actively listening to Brook is evident in the scene where Greg does not respond to Brook’s call to assist in cleaning dishes.

In any relationship, active listening is essential in minimizing possibilities that start confrontations. They can reduce misunderstandings and the absence of the needed common ground between Greg and Brook should Greg listen to Brook actively and respond to what he listens to, not according to his thoughts, but according to what has been said. As Brook complains about the three lemons, Greg shuts her out by failing to respond. Here, Greg clearly shows he does not care. In the scene where Greg fails to clean dishes, his eye contact is poor, and his body posture shows Greg is not mentally or even physically attentive. Somewhat, his attention is lost on the video game he is playing. Therefore, the scene shows communication between the two is poor and can be improved by Greg shifting his attention from the video game to Brook.

Nonverbal Communication

In the same scene explained, Greg does not concentrate as Brook complains about the mistake he has committed. Instead, Greg is busy watching television. For relationships to thrive, both parties must have their attention on what is being talked discussed. Their inability to concentrate on their words from Brook plainly shows he is busy avoiding the conversation and has no intention of indulging in the conversation. Brook’s anger is seen on her face, but Greg cannot notice by focusing on the sport on the television. Therefore, he is not able to read her body language.

He is not sensitive to her emotions. Worse, Greg does not bother, and with this, instead of bridging the gap between the two of them, he is busy driving a wedge between Brook and himself. Greg’s chosen approach to handling the concern raised by Brook reveals how fast their relationship is deteriorating as the tension between them continues to build up. Burgoon et al. illustrated those drawing novel distinctions, how sensitive an individual is too varied perspectives, and their contexts define mindfulness. Likewise, mindfulness is also linked to fluidity and processed active information (Burgoon et al., 106). Greg’s contraindication to mindfulness over what Brook tells him indicates a high level of ineffective communication, reflecting how fast their relationship is falling.

Decision Making Skills

Happiness in relationships comes when both members achieve equitability and not when attention is channeled to costs and rewards. In the film, Brook feels Greg does not show any more level of commitment to the relationship. In what Brook feels, she contradicts the concept found in equity theory. Brook’s feeling concerning her relationship with Greg agrees with what Wood illustrates when he says that satisfaction and happiness in relationships are achieved when people are equitable rather than inequitable states (213). By feeling she is the one accommodating and making efforts to sustain the relationship, Brooks comes to the point of deciding she is the one doing more for the association, unlike Greg.

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As shown in equity theory, the arguments between Brook and Greg result from Brook thinking she has invested more than her partner has; thus, she becomes angry and resentful. The anger and resentfulness further deteriorate their relationship. From the film, it becomes evident that neither Brook nor Greg is willing to decide on a better way to handle their challenges. Therefore, no one feels comfortable in a relationship where resentment and annoyance dominate.


The major challenge in the film comes from the inability of Greg to communicate effectively with Brook. Through these challenges in communication, a long-term relationship between Brook and Greg results in various communication issues. With this inability, Greg makes it possible to understand the challenges faced in interpersonal communication and the difficulty of understanding. Therefore, it becomes hard to achieve mutual feelings, opinions, and thoughts between Greg and Brook.

Works Cited

Burgoon, Judee K., and Charles R. Berger. “Mindfulness and Interpersonal Communication.” Journal of Social Issues. 56.1 (2000): 105-127. Print.

Wilkins, Kerrie G., et al. “Measuring Communication Skills: the Stem Interpersonal Communication Skills Assessment Battery.” Journal of Engineering Education. 104.4 (2015): 433-453. Print.

Wood, Julia T. Communication Mosaics: An Introduction to the Field of Communication. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2018. Print.

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