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Communicating Forgiveness
Communicating Forgiveness is the first book to take a truly communicative look at the process of forgiveness. Authors Vincent R. Waldron and Douglas L. Kelley provide a synthesis of the literature on forgiveness in relationships. Grounded in real-life forgiveness narratives, this interdisciplinary text (pulling from such related fields as psychology, counseling, family studies, peace studies, conflict management, religious studies, and organizational behavior) offers a hopeful framework for negotiating healthy and just responses to relational disappointments.

Key Features  
  • Conceptualizes forgiveness as communication: Offering an alternative to predominant psychological approaches, this is the first book to focus on specific communication behaviors associated with forgiveness.
  • Provides an emotional connection: Real- life narratives from long-term couples, friends, family members, and coworkers make the text readable and relevant to today's relationships.
  • Includes a chapter on the practice of forgiveness: Practical advice and specific guidelines resonate well with readers as they apply to genuine friendships, romances, families, and workplaces.
  • Offers path-breaking theory development: The book organizes existing forgiveness research around a descriptive communication framework, demonstrating how existing psychological research can be enriched through the application of communication theories.
  • Presents a highly personal closing chapter: In the final chapter the authors provide a personal account of their experiences as researchers through "On the Drive Home" vignettes that convey key lessons learned.
Intended Audience  
This is an excellent supplemental text for a variety of advanced undergraduate and graduate courses such as Conflict Management, Interpersonal Communication, Family Communication, Communication in Personal Relationships, Psychology of Personal Relationships, Counseling, and Peace Studies in the departments of Communication, Psychology, Family Studies, and Counseling.

1. Conceptual Foundations
Why Is Forgiveness Important?

Theological Foundations

Social Science Approaches

2. Elements of the Forgiveness Process
Sensitizing Concepts: Communication as an Observational Lens

Transgressions and Traumatic Relational Events

Relational Context

Individual Factors

Communication Processes

Relationship Outcomes


3. Theorizing Forgiveness
Dialectical Theory

Uncertainty Management Frameworks

Identity Management Theories

Towards Negotiated Morality Theory (NMT) of Forgiveness

4. Communicating Forgiveness
The Forgiveness Episode: Six Communication Processes

Revealing and Detecting Transgressions

Managing Emotions

Making Sense

Seeking Forgiveness

Granting Forgiveness

Relationship Negotiation and Transition

Concluding Thoughts

5. Practicing Forgiveness
Five Reasons to Forgive

The Dark Side of Forgiveness

Prescriptive Models of Forgiveness

Communication Tasks of Forgiveness (CTF): A New Prescriptive Model

Reconciliation: A Possible Outcome of Forgiveness

Contributions From Long-Term Couples

Concluding Thoughts

6. Studying Forgiveness: Methodological Conundrums and Transformational Experiences
Why Do We Study Forgiveness?

Conceptual Definition: What Is Forgiveness Anyway?

Picking Our Paradigm: Which Questions Matter Most?

How Do You Measure Forgiveness?


About the Authors

"Waldron and Kelley successfully weave in examples from their qualitiative studies to illustrate various forgivemess concepts. The qualitative approach is a nice complement to the mostly quantitative work done in personal relationships. The authors provide insight into important methodological considerations such as conceptual definitions of forgiveness and measurement issues. The book fits nicely with the positive psychology movement. I found it refreshing to see a book that tackles how people can recover from such serious transgressions."

Karen Wilson
Key features
  • Brings a communication perspective to the forgiveness literature:  No existing forgiveness book is oriented to scholars and students of communication.
  • Advances theory:  The book organizes and synthesizes existing forgiveness research around a descriptive communication framework, demonstrating how existing psychological research can be enriched by through the application of communication theories, including dialectical and face-management perspectives.  For example, exploring how forgiveness is a process of dyadic negotiation, not just an individual's decision.
  • Features the experiences of real-life couples:  Qualitative data are reported from interviews with numerous long-term married couples and several hundred forgiveness narratives provided by younger romantic partners.  Anecdotes and quotes from these couples add interest and validity to the theoretical claims of the book.
  • Includes a chapter on the practice of forgiveness:  Most relationships require forgiveness at some point, so this book resonates with the relational experiences of most readers.  The authors argue that forgiveness is not the magic relational elixir implied in much popular writing. At the same time they provide research evidence indicating that some forms of forgiving communication are better than others and that forgiveness processes must be understood if partners are to maintain their relationships through difficult periods.
  • Interdisciplinary perspective: Communicating Forgiveness has a wide appeal, presenting research from the fields of psychology counseling, family studies, peace studies, conflict management, religious studies and organizational behavior.
  • On the ride home: In the final chapter the authors provide a personal account of their experiences as researchers, the methodological and ethical questions they faced and the transformations that occurred in their own relationships as a result of their research.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

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