Posted: March 12th, 2023

Case Study


For this assignment, you will select one of the following three Factual Case Scenarios:

The Dempseys


Angry Customers


The Larsons



Write an analysis of the emotional issues the scenario presents.  Define and discuss framing in the context of the scenario.  What strategy would you employ or suggest be used in this situation?  What role could an apology play?

Your paper should be 1-2 pages and should include relevant, supporting examples, and appropriate APA format and citations.


Mike, Melissa, Mia, and Matt Dempsey

In many respects Mike, Melissa, Mia, and Matt Dempsey are a typical family. Mike is an
executive at a local manufacturing company that subcontracts to make parts for cars, busses,
and trucks. Melissa is a 6th grade teacher, Mia is sixteen, and Matt is seventeen. Matt will be
graduating from high school this spring. Matt’s grades have fallen off considerably in his senior
year for a number of reasons. Matt has never really liked high school. The one thing that
motivated him to work hard and keep his grades up was football. He loved football. But in the
last game of his junior year he tore his left knee up badly and was unable to play at all in his
senior year. He hoped to play college football at an NCAA division two college, or possibly an
NAIA college, but even that looks doubtful now. And to complicate things, Matt thinks he has
found the woman of his dreams and has fallen in love. His girlfriend, Shelly, graduated from high
school last year and now works full time at a mall department store and has no plans to go to
college. Mike and Melissa are both concerned about Matt. If he continues at the present rate,
his grades will only be good enough to get into the local community college. And Mike and
Melissa definitely do not like Shelly. They see her as a bad influence on Matt. Their perspective
is that she has no motivation to get ahead in life. They know she has a least one arrest (charges
were later dismissed) for drug possession and was cited at least once for MIP. Both Mike and
Melissa expect a lot from Matt and think he can do much more in life without Shelly. They would
very much like to get Shelly out of Matt’s life. But of course, Matt has other ideas.

This conversation occurred between Matt and Melissa. Melissa is cleaning the refrigerator and
Matt is in the next room watching TV.

Matt: Hey mom, Shelly is coming over in a little bit. She says I need to redecorate my room and
she’s going to give me some ideas about how to do it. She wants to be an interior decorator you
Melissa: (softly) Honey, the only thing she wants to be is a druggie.
Matt: What, what’d you say?
Melissa: (Louder) Nothing, I said your dad and I thought maybe we would all go out to dinner
tonight, just the four of us. Maybe we could go to Woody’s. You like Woody’s.
Matt: I’m not going anywhere with Mia, she’s a pig with a pizza-face.
Melissa: (shouts) Stop that right now. I told you to never, ever talk like that about your sister. I
won’t have it. Do you understand?
Matt: (softly) I understand that you are an idiot.
Melissa: (Loudly) What, I can’t hear you, the TV is too loud. Do you understand?
Matt: Yes, I understand, but I want to do something with Shell tonight. I think we might paint my
Melissa: (Firmly) You are not painting your room. Your dad would have a cow; we just had the
whole interior painted last year. Forget painting.
Matt: But mom…
Melissa: (Firmly): NO!!
Matt: OK, me and Shell will do something else then.
Melissa: (Firmly): Matt, we are all going to dinner tonight
Matt: Shelly is already planning on coming over tonight, can she go too?
Melissa: Absolutely not. Matt, honey, that girl is just…she’s just not right for you. You can do
better than that.
Matt: (Raises his voice) You and dad are so unfair! I’m 17 and I still have a curfew, can’t talk on
the cell and drive at the same time, can’t have more than one other person under age 20 in the
car when I’m driving. I can’t even pick my own girlfriend. And so on, rules, rules, rules, I get sick


of it. And then there’s grades, oh yes, get those grades up. (Shouts) I HATE IT HERE. I can’t
wait until I move out!!
Melissa: (Shouts) WE CAN’T WAIT EITHER!! (mumbles to herself) I can’t believe I just said

Matt then storms out of the house and slams the door extra hard on the way out.
Shortly after this happened Mike arrived home from work. As soon as he walked in he could see
Melissa’s watery eyes.

Mike: What’s the matter hon?
Melissa: I just had another fight with Matt.
Mike: What was it about this time?
Melissa: Oh, he wants that girl of his to come over and paint his room and I told him no and then
he stomped out.
Mike: Yeah, I saw him on my way home. He made a rolling stop at the 4-way stop there at
Sorensen and Webster. I knew something was up.
Melissa: I feel so bad, could you call him on his cell and see what you can do.
Mike: I shouldn’t, we tell him not talk on his cell when driving, but I will.

Mike calls Matt on his cell and Matt answers:

Matt: (answers his cell phone) Hi dad.
Mike: How’d you know it was me?
Matt: Mom wouldn’t call.
Mike: Hey where are you, could you come back home so we could talk?
Matt: I’m just up here at BP filling my tank. I’ll be home shortly.
Mike: OK, thanks, and remember to come to a complete stop at stop signs.
Matt: OK dad.

Matt arrives at home and he and his father sit down on the sofa to talk.

Mike: Hey what happened between you and your mom?
Matt: Dad, she treats like me crap.
Mike: Don’t talk like that, she is your mother and you will respect her.
Matt: But she does dad.
Mike: OK, just tell me what happened.
Matt: She is so unfair dad…
Mike: No, Matt, I don’t’ want an editorial, just tell me what happened.
Matt: I told her that Shelly was coming over and that we were going to redecorate my room and
then she says no, we are all going to go out to dinner and she starts putting down Shelly again.
Mike: Why don’t you go apologize to your mom and I bet she will do the same.
Matt: But what about tonight? Can Shelly go to dinner with us?
Mike: Why don’t you let me talk to your mom about that?

Mike talks to Melissa abut plans for the evening:

Melissa: How’d the talk with Matt go?
Mike: OK I guess. How ‘bout if just you and I and Mia go for dinner.
Melissa: Mia won’t want to go if Matt doesn’t
Mike: Well, than just order some pizza.
Melissa: OK


Mike: You’re disappointed?
Melissa: Yes, and I don’t see why our entire life has to be organized around Matt. He is still a
member of the family and may have to do things he would rather not.
Mike: True, but he’s also at that age were he wants some independence. Anyway, I told him to
apologize and told him you would do the same.
Melissa: uh huh.

The next day, Matt stops by home after school to change his clothes before he goes to work.

Matt: Hi mom, I’m sorry about yesterday.
Melissa: I am too. We wouldn’t have these kinds of arguments if you would listen to me and
your father.
Matt: I do listen.
Melissa: Not about Shelly you don’t.
Matt: (said firmly) Mom, don’t start that again.
Melissa: But you have so much potential. What in the world can she do for you?
Matt: (raises voice) Mom, stop it, I mean it.
Melissa: Matt, let’s not fight again, please, just listen. We love you so much, and I’m sure Shelly
is a nice girl, but Matt honey, she has no ambition in life. Her mother works at the post office
and that’s probably what she will end up doing…
Matt: Mom, you don’t even know her!!
Melissa: But I know her type and I know…
Matt: (interrupts) What do you mean you know her type?
Melissa: You know what I mean….
Matt: (Shouts) DANG IT MOM!…(pauses as if he wants to say something, and then stomps out
of the house and slams the door on the way out).

The next day Mike and Melissa had this conversation:

Mike: You know hun, I wish you and Matt could find some better way to work out your
Melissa: The problem is that he just won’t listen.
Mike: No, the problem is that you won’t loosen the reigns just a little.
Melissa: What does that mean?
Mike: He’s at that stage in life where he’s ready….
Melissa: (interrupts Mike)…no, no, no, I don’t want to hear that again, right now he needs
tighter, not looser reigns, and YOU won’t reign him at all, not even a little.
(Mia, Matt’s 16 year-old sister walks in the room)
Mia: Tell dad what I found in Matt’s room.
Mike: Mia, you stay out of this.
Melissa: Yeah, let me tell you, Mia went in to Matt’s room looking for, what was it, something
you needed for your computer and what did she find…PORNOGRAPHY on his computer. It was
Mia: You should take away his computer.
Mike: I said, stay out of this, Mia.
Melissa: No, she’s right. I won’t tolerate that behavior in this house. We should take away his
Mike: OK, we’ll finish this conversation later.
Melissa: No, let’s discuss this now. Mia said that we could get some software to put on his
computer that will track the websites that he views. I think we should do that. I think that we
need to control what he does with that computer.


Mike: Mia, would you please leave for a minute while your mom and I have this conversation?


The Angry Customer

Bill and Nadine Crawford had been planning and saving for two years for a trip with the
kids to Disney World. Bill works construction and Nadine is a nurse. With four kids you
have to stretch every dollar, and a vacation for six people requires lots of planning and
saving. Bill and Nadine both went to the travel agency to make the reservations. They
booked a four night stay at a moderately expensive hotel, and they made their airplane
reservations. The travel agent told them that since their stay included Christmas Eve and
Christmas Day they would get a 20% discount on their room charge at the hotel. With
their planning, and by looking for bargains wherever they could, they figured they saved
enough money to stay one more day. When they checked out of the hotel at the end of
their stay, they found out that their 20% discount was for one night only—Christmas Eve.
Bill and Nadine complained to the hotel but were told there was nothing they could do;
they had to take it up with their travel agent. Bill and Nadine were both furious. The
travel agent had told them a 20% discount for the entire stay—they were both certain of
that. The additional $150 they paid for their hotel accommodations put considerable
strain on their vacation budget and on their relationship.

The flight home was, to say the least, stressful. The vacation had been great and
relaxing, but the hotel bill problem had thrown everything into chaos. Bill and Nadine
hardly spoke on the plane. Things really boiled over after they arrived at home. While
they were unpacking, Nadine commented that she wished they had clarified the hotel
rate when they were with the travel agent. Bill snapped at Nadine: “Yeah, you were
there, why didn’t you ask what the 20% meant.” To which Nadine responded “You were
there too, I can’t do everything, and I did most of the planning for this trip.” Bill
responded “Do you have a plan to come up with the extra $150?” That drew a quick,
loud, “Oh shut up” from Nadine. Bill went downstairs, got a beer, and went to the
basement to watch TV. Gail, at sixteen the oldest of the four children, went into her
parent’s bedroom to see what was the matter. Nadine then told Gail of the unexpected
cost of the hotel and proceeded to inform Gail of all of her father’s deficiencies and
inadequacies, including the fact that “any other man would have just straightened out the
hotel mess right then and there, but oh no, not your father. I will probably end up fixing
this; he always does this to me.” Gail left upset. She hated it when her parents fought
and put down one another.

Moments later Gail wanted to use the bathroom and go to bed. Her younger sister
Arlene was in there and, Gail thought, was “as usual just taking her time to annoy me.”
Gail pounded on the door and shouted at Arlene, “Hurry up, it’s my turn.” Arlene replied
“You are going to have to wait.” The two youngest children, Robbie age 7 and Kurt age
9, who shared a bedroom, heard the commotion in the hall. Before long they too were
fighting. Kurt threw a toy at Robbie who picked it up and threw it back and hit Kurt in the
head. Kurt started to cry. Nadine came in and screamed at them and told them to “Be
quiet and go to sleep or someone will get spanked.” Downstairs Bill could tell what was
going on upstairs and wondered how a fun vacation could end like this. Nadine crawled
into bed and thought for a moment: “Money, we always fight over money. I knew we
were gonna fight over this the minute Bill told me, but I just couldn’t stop it.”


The Larsons

Chloe and Evan Larson have been married for two years. Both would admit that their marriage
is not perfect, but both also think they have a good marriage. It is a second marriage for both.
They realize that statistically there is a good chance that this marriage too will end in divorce as
the divorce rate for second marriages is actually higher than for first marriages. Both Chloe and
Evan brought problems from their first marriage into their second marriage. Evan has a son
Nelson, now age 7, from his first marriage. Evan continues to have issues with his ex that is
related to Nelson. Chloe and her first husband started a very successful upscale restaurant.
They were equal partners in the business and the arrangement continued after the divorce. So,
Chloe has a continuing business relationship with her ex, Tyler. Chloe is trying to sell her half of
the business but has been unsuccessful, at least in part because Tyler has the right to veto the
sale if the potential new business partner is unacceptable to him. Tyler has vetoed at least one
possible sale of Chloe’s interest in the business.

The most recent tiff between Evan and his ex, Maria, concerned the treatment of Nelson’s
medical condition. Nelson has scoliosis which is an abnormal curvature of the back. They have
seen several orthopedists and specialists, which are divided. Some think that Nelson will need
corrective surgery. Others are not sure and think that the growth of his scoliosis will slow as
Nelson gets older and therefore he won’t need surgery. Maria wants him to have the surgery
and Evan does not. Evan is very confrontational in his communication with Maria. He has told
her that he wanted to wait and see if Nelson’s scoliosis would slow down and even stop when
he gets into his teen years. If he still needed surgery he would still be young and they could
have it done in his mid to late teens. Maria wants it done now. But she has learned that once
Evan has spoken his mind there is no point in continuing the discussion because if you press
him he just withdraws from the situation and gives the “silent treatment.” Maria has adopted
another tactic she uses when Evan clams up and won’t discuss the issue. Maria has remained
on good terms with Evan’s parents (Nelson’s grandparents) and she uses them to exercise
leverage on Evan.

Maria has maintained good relations with the grandparents because she has convinced her
former in-laws that Evan is sometimes an irresponsible father. So, the grandparents and Maria
have formed sort of a coalition to look after Nelson’s well-being—that is the basis for their
continuing relationship. Maria’s strategy is now to talk to her ex in-laws and see if they will
pressure Nelson to give his approval to the surgery. Evan talked this situation over with Chloe:
he told her it would just be a matter of time before his parents called to pressure him to agree to
Nelson’s surgery. He wanted some advice on how to handle the situation.

Evan: “I just don’t know what to do. I know my parents will call in a day or two and lay this guilt
on me about how I am not doing the right thing for Nelson and so on. They always side with
Maria on things like this. I’m their son, why don’t they take my side. I just don’t get it.”
Chloe: “I think Maria uses Nelson to manipulate them. He is their only grandchild and they just
love him to pieces. All Maria has to do is just him-haw around a little bit and say ‘Well I don’t
know if I can bring Nelson by this weekend, we’re pretty busy…’ and then she has ’em hooked,
just like puppets on a string. Just be firm with them like you are with Maria. Just say no.”
Evan: “Oh yeah, that has worked so well in the past.”
Chloe: “Well look, you’ve already given up before you have even tried.”
Evan: “I have tried being firm with them on issues related to Nelson before and it just doesn’t
work with them. The just get mad at me and it just reinforces in their mind that I am a bad
parent. They agree with Maria on everything. They will never listen to me.”


Chloe: “Well I agree, it’s probably just a good idea to give up now and not even try.”
Evan: “Hey, I don’t need any sarcasm thank you. One of the reasons that Maria and I got
divorced is that I got sick and tired of the three of them trying to run my life. They hounded me
into taking that job at UPS which I hated when I was perfectly happy working as a gate agent at
American Airlines. I took that job at UPS, I made good money, but some days I was 12 hours in
that stupid truck making deliveries. Then they hassled me that I was gone too much. Well hell,
you can’t have it both ways.”
Chloe: “OK, I’m sorry. I won’t give you anymore advice. Please forgive me.”
Evan: “Oh, cut the crap.”
Chloe: “Oh, come on, I was just teasing.”
Evan: “I don’t care. I really hate your sarcasm.”
Chloe: “Really, I hate the fact that you won’t stand up to your parents and ex-wife who more or
less run your life, or at least parts of it anyway.”
Evan: “That is such total B.S. and you know it.”
Chloe: “Hey, you know, we have never agreed on how you should deal with Maria. I really don’t
want to fight with you over this. The best thing is for me to just stay out of this. Maybe we should
agree that we won’t even discuss things between you, your parents, and Maria. What do you
Evan: “OK, you’re right. I won’t bring it up again.”
Chloe: “Thanks, and I love you.”
Evan: “I love you too.”

Meanwhile, Chloe had her own problems. Since her divorce from Tyler three years previous,
she been unsuccessful in her efforts to sell her interest in the business she co-owned with her
ex. Chloe had managed to maintain an effective working relationship with her ex in part because
their marriage had produced no children and also in part because the decision to divorce was a
mutual one. But Chloe suspected that Tyler was extracting an ounce of revenge by
undermining her efforts to sell her part of the business. Two likely buyers had slipped away and
Chloe blamed Tyler. The first buyer backed out after being interviewed by Tyler. Chloe heard
later that the buyer backed out because Tyler came across as a “big jerk” in the interview. Tyler
vetoed sale to the second prospect outright and offered little justification other than “not the kind
of person I want for a business partner.” Chloe was ready to move on personally and
professionally. In her mind she had done the first through remarriage and now she wanted to
sell her interest in the business so she could start her own business in which she was the sole

Chloe: “One of the reasons Tyler and I split was because he just could not accept the fact I
could be successful without him. That was just too big a shock to his ego. He is still trying to
hold me back.”
Evan: “Why don’t you try to meet him halfway? Let him buy you out. You have built a very
successful business. He could easily get a bank loan to finance a buy-out.”
Chloe: “Tyler and I have discussed that. He has offered me about half of what my interest is
worth. I am not desperate enough to just give it away. I worked very hard to build up equity in
that business and I’ll be damned if I am going to give it away. That is not going to happen. You,
know I could put him out of business. He knows the marketing and creative side of the
restaurant. I know the financial and human resources side. If he doesn’t let me sell out I could
just bleed that business to death financially.”
Evan: “Oh, that’s smart. Instead of giving it away you’ll just trash it.”
-5- Chloe: “But I would have the satisfaction of having the last laugh.”
Evan: “How much is the last laugh worth?”


Chloe: “So what do you suggest I do?”
Evan: “Meet him halfway—half a loaf is better than none.”
Chloe: “Not always.”
Evan: “Why are you so competitive?”
Chloe: “I’m not.”
Evan: “Yes you are.”
Chloe: “No, I’m not.”
Evan: “Yes you are, you always have to have the last word.”
Chloe: “No.”
Evan: “See, you couldn’t just let it go, you had to respond.”
Chloe: “Oh, who’s being competitive now.”

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