Insecure’s Lesson on Communication
I always appreciate when film and television are cast with people who behave like real people in real situations. Issa Rae’s Insecure consistently offers this with characters who are relatable and scenarios similar to what we encounter in our everyday lives.
Season 5 continued this theme as we watched Issa and Yvonne Orji’s characters, Issa and Molly, do something that can be comfortable for some and feel like nails on a chalkboard for others: conflict resolution. Issa and Molly’s relationship was undeniably rocky in Season 4 and came to a head at the end leaving many of us to wonder how our favorite homegirl duo would recover. Like many other shows, Insecure gave us a great depiction of what conflict in important relationships can look like: yelling, blaming, criticizing, avoidance, and plenty of contempt. What the show did next, and what other Hollywood productions often miss, was invite us into the most crucial part of a conflict cycle, the repair.
For many of us, the initial “blowing off steam” phase in a conflict is easy to access. Allowing anger or disappointment to be expressed is not a space that many get stuck in; rather, it is the repair that leaves people feeling uncomfortable and challenged. Molly’s question “Are we gonna be okay?” and “I just want s*** to be cool” were simple while maintaining the elements of effective and clear communication. Her words captured what I call the “3 C’s of Communication” and made way for the relationship to rebound.
The 3 C’s of Communication for Effective Communication are:
These 3 C’s can be accomplished by using “I statements”, avoiding blaming statements, speaking from your personal experience and your personal experiences only, and remembering that monologues belong in Shakespeare plays, not your relationships.
I want us to be good and I’m worried we’re not. I’ve been feeling disconnected.
I find it funny how you have time to hang with your friends but no time to text me back.
It hurt my feelings when you made that joke in front of everyone.
The last time you brought up that joke, I told you I didn’t like it. You always do things that I don’t like; like the time you invited your mom to dinner without telling me. You know I get awkward around her and need time to prepare for visits with her. You never give me enough warning and just throw me into stuff expecting me to swim. I remember the first time you did that when we were in college and you said you wouldn’t do it anymore but you’re still doing it. How am I supposed to trust you? I feel like you have no respect for me.
I need you to communicate differently because that tone feels very demeaning.
You’re such an a••. You don’t care about me and you clearly don’t respect me because your tone is awful.
Remember these 3 C’s when communicating anything important to anyone that you want to listen to you. May all your conflicts resolve, asé, asé.
-Michelle Collins, LMFT
Therapist and Practice Owner