In The Garden scene of the movie Godfather I, Michael Corleone is seen sitting in the garden and having a conversation with his father, Vito Corleone. Michael is seen reassuring his father who is worried about Michael’s future.
Parts of the Communication Model
The first element of the universal model of interpersonal communication is the source-receiver who, in The Garden scene, would be both Michael and Vito Corleone. The encoding element is speech or speaking while the decoding element is listening. Competence is the ability of both characters to communicate in English, although Vito Corleone’s speech is not as clear and audible as Michael’s.
The channel used is the vocal-auditory channel while the noise would consist of the character’s interpretations and impressions about each other’s messages, which they make even before the other has finished talking. The messages are conveyed in the verbal communication exchanged by both characters, as well as in their actions and facial expressions. It should be noted, though, that some of the messages exchanged are quite vague and unclear. For example, when Michael asks Vito what’s bothering him, Vito’s answer is not a direct response to Michael’s question. Another example is when Michael says that he’d handle it, it wasn’t clear what he would handle and how he would handle it.
The context of the communication is Vito Corleone’s concern for his son with regards to his son’s future. Finally, the ethics of communication is evident in the way the characters tried to balance speaking and listening and in the way they showed respect and concern for each other throughout their dialogue. However, it would also be noted that there are some instances when one would speak before the other has responded, which may not be very ethical. For example, when Michael asked Vito what the matter was, Michael assured Vito that he would handle it even before Michael had a chance to tell him what was bothering him.
Parts of the Johari Window
Michael Corleone’s open self consists of things such as his name and his family, which both he and his father know about, as well as other people who are familiar to them. On the other hand, Michael’s blind self consists of things that he doesn’t know about but which his father knows about – particularly, the worries that his father has about his future. Michael’s hidden self consists of his plans to take care of Vito’s worries. He says, “I can handle it,” but he doesn’t divulge how he’ll handle it. Lastly, Michael’s unknown self consists of exactly how his future will turn out, which neither he nor his father knows about.
Stages of Perception
In the first stage, Stimulation, Michael is stimulated by his father’s silence and worried expression. In the second stage, Organization, Michael uses rules or his past experiences to interpret what his father’s silence and worried look mean. In the Interpretation-Evaluation stage, Michael interprets his father’s silence and worried expression to mean that something’s bothering him and so he asks, “What’s the matter? What’s bothering you?”
In the Recall stage, although Vito does not say what’s bothering him, Michael seems to recall what might be bothering his father, so he assures him by saying that he’ll handle it. The Memory stage, in this scene, comes after the Recall stage in that Vito Corleone gives some warning and advice to his son regarding a man named Barzini and Michael commits this information to memory.
Impression Formation Processes
The following impression formation processes can be applied to the character of Michael Corleone: Self-fulfilling prophecy, Consistency, and Attribution of control.
Self-fulfilling prophecy is seen when Michael asks Vito what was bothering him and although the latter doesn’t directly respond to the question, what Vito says does convey that he is bothered about something.
Consistency can be applied when Vito talks about the big shots and how Michael should be careful of Barzini. Vito conveys that he dislikes these people and being Vito’s son, Michael gets the impression that he should also dislike and be wary of these people.
Finally, the Attribution of control can be applied when Vito Corleone says, “I never wanted this for you” and “Wasn’t enough time, Michael. Wasn’t enough time.” This conveys to Michael that this and his father’s situation are beyond his father’s control which makes him empathize with his father.
Aspects of Cultural Differences
Four aspects of cultural differences that are evident in the scene are power distances, masculinity of the culture, individualist orientation, and low ambiguity tolerance. In particular, the scene depicts a high-power distance culture, given the reference to the “big shots.” The culture can also be classified as masculine in that men are depicted as assertive, strong, and successful whereas women are seen as meek, gentle, and dependent on men. In addition, an individualist culture is depicted in that the characters’ main concern is their own and their family’s welfare. Finally, the culture depicted in the scene can be described as low-ambiguity tolerant as the ambiguity of Michael’s future is making Vito very anxious.
Stages of the Listening Process
The five stages of the listening process are receiving, understanding, remembering, evaluating, and responding. When Vito Corleone starts to talk about what’s bothering him, Michael receives the message and tries to process the message in an effort to understand it. This is depicted in the part of the scene where Michael listens closely to what his father’s saying. Michael is also trying to remember what his father is saying. In particular, he says “Another pezzonovante,” which indicates that he remembers Vito’s reference to the “big shots.” In the evaluating stage, Michael interprets his father’s message to mean that he is worried and disappointed. To this, Michael responds by assuring his father and saying,”We’ll get there, Pop. We’ll get there.”
Dimensions of Effective Listening
Empathic listening is applied when Michael listens intently to what Vito is saying without interrupting. In the same manner, nonjudgmental listening is evident in this scene in that Michael doesn’t disregard or contradict what Vito is saying.
Surface listening is applied throughout the conversation between the two characters but depth listening can also be applied when Vito says, “I never wanted this for you,” which could mean that he wants his son’s assurance and understanding.
As well, Michael used inactive listening for most of the conversation except when he said “Another pezzonovante,” which denotes active listening as he is paraphrasing what his father wants him to become.
For a more effective communication, it would be recommended for the characters in the scene to take the time to listen to each other before responding, to clarify their messages by providing explicit information and by responding directly to the questions being asked. In addition, it would be recommended that each character actively listen by verifying their understanding instead of making assumptions about what each other’s messages mean.
Devito, Joseph A. Interpersonal Communication. 12th ed. Pearson, 2008. Print.