10 Things I Hate About You and Communication Skills

By Marissa Frazier

Communication is a widespread skill. Everyone communicates, it is how we live as humans. Thankfully, movies and actors are great at showing communication. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) is an excellent film (based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew) that helps to show many different types of communication. Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) and Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) are main characters that show these the most while also having more details towards them. 

Most main characters stand out and Kat is no different. Many people see her as scary, rebellious, rude, but she tends to be very sweet most times. It is easy to tell that she is independent and is free spirited from her interactions. Kat can also be extremely opinionated as well. During the classroom scene at the beginning of the movie, she talks out about women and how they were treated. Despite what other people were saying, she stood her ground and spoke out about what she believed in. Kat can also be considered antisocial and the most hated person in the school at the beginning. Though that changed as the movie went on. In fact, after falling in love, she became a lot closer to her sister, Bianca and seemed to be more socially friendly. Patrick, on the other hand, is interesting. Being the teen rebel, he is known for smoking, drinking, and hanging out in bars. Though, through the movie he changes as he falls more in love with Kat, stopping the smoking and partying. Patrick, I feel like, hides a lot of his true self, he is more soft and caring, taking care of his sick grandpa. It seems as if he is trying to put on a persona for everyone to fear him when in reality, it is more as if he is really a stuffed bear.

10 Things I Hate About You follows multiple character lines, but focusing on Kat and Patrick, Patrick was paid to go out with Kat in order to get Kat’s sister available to date. At first, Patrick was in it for the money, but through the movie he falls in love. Then, at prom, Kat finds out about how he was paid to go out with her. The iconic classroom scene occurs where Kat writes a poem that becomes the iconic quote: “I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair. I hate the way you drive your car. I hate it when you stare. I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind. I hate you so much it makes me sick; it even makes me rhyme. I hate it, I hate the way you’re always right. I hate it when you lie. I hate it when you make me laugh, even worse when you make me cry. I hate it when you’re not around, and the fact that you didn’t call. But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you. Not even close, not even a little, not even at all.”  This causes Patrick to buy Kat a new guitar as an apology, with some banter, and the two are back together. It’s then over. Though the two progress a lot with communication, as said before. 

The main conflict in this movie involves more than only Kat and Patrick, but only those two will be discussed. Cameron falls in love with Kat’s sister, Bianca, but he can not act on those feelings as they are not allowed to date. Though, that rule changes to where Bianca can date whenever Kat dates. The issue is, Kat does not date anyone as she dislikes men at this point in the movie. Cameron decides to come up with a plan to where Joey will pay Patrick to date Kat. With this, the conflict was not handled how it should have been. For starters, this conflict is considered a competing conflict. This would be a win lose situation because Patrick was paid to date Kat, prompting a fake relationship from the start. Bringing in Joey and Cameron too, only one of them would be with Bianca in the end. Mainly, Patrick was living a fake relationship in the beginning so he could be paid. 

This conflict is intensified to a seemingly avoiding conflict. Kat finds out at the prom that Patrick was paid to date her, sending her down a spiral of emotions. She does not listen to what he says and is off. During this, much is not shown but from the parts there are, it seems as if the conflict is avoided. Kat does not speak to Patrick during this time either. She is how she was at the beginning of the movie, only heartbroken this time. Then, like any Disney movie, this conflict is resolved.  This conflict ends being a collaboration. Patrick had given Kat a guitar as an apology. This is a perfect example of collaboration because this ends in a win-win situation. Although it is unknown what happened after the movie, the two are both pleased. Kat is given the guitar, and she ends happy and knows that Patrick does have feelings for her. Patrick also gets to be with someone where he can be his true self. 

Going into more detail, Patrick and Kat’s first interaction was right after Patrick had just been given fifty dollars to date Kat. It is clear through nonverbal communication that she is not into it. Her face scrunchies up, and through verbal communication is sarcastic. Physically Kat tries to walk away, but Patrick only follows. It is clear that Patrick’s communication is different from Kat’s. His nonverbal communication shows that he is bold as he smiles and acts as if Kat is going to bow down and love him no matter what. Then his verbal communication is the same. Patrick assumes that Kat is going to go out with him, but is turned down immediately. Physically he follows Kat until they depart and meet again later on thanks to Patrick.

Kat herself has an interesting dialect that does not change throughout the movie even though it seems as if it does. Oftentimes during the film, Kat shows lots of sociolinguistics in communication. With her personality, Kat is more of a feminist, opinionated, and does not stand for a lot. Though those qualities are not negative, it could cause a lack of intercultural competence. She does not try to learn about other cultures-in the high school version of it. Another side of things, Kat does not practice mindfulness. This causes her issues with being able to interpret some messages from Patrick. In the scene at the bookstore, Kat interprets what Patrick is saying wrong due to not being mindful or inter culturally competent with him. On the other side, Patrick has some issues with pragmatics. At the bookstore again where Patrick tries to make it up to Kat, he reads what Kat is meaning wrong and it causes an argument. It seemed as if he was trying to get a reaction out of Kat rather than trying to apologize. With this, Patrick provided too much information. He was truthful, but due to sharing the wrong amount of information it broke out the argument seen in the film. Thankfully, Patrick acknowledged when he violated a guideline and did make it up to her.

Nonverbal communication is something extremely important as it can add much more interpretation. There are gestures from both sides. With the brighter side of the film, Kat and Patrick play with paint balloons. The two chase each other, smiling, and eventually fall on the ground and kiss. There is a use of body here from both Kat and Patrick, and the two use facial expressions. Patrick smiles often, and so does Kat. Most importantly, their body movement was very prominent during this scene. The two are chasing each other, hitting each other, and then also tackling each other. It is all done without verbally speaking, but it shows their connection and bond forming and growing.

As for listening, the two are similar as well. Patrick is more people-orientated and it is shown after speaking to Cameron and Michael. Kat is not a fan of smoking and is a fan of specific bands. This is shown that Patrick was listening in on the content within what Cameron was saying. Patrick went to the club to see Kat and stopped smoking, and being the bad boy in a way, in order to get her to fall for him. Though, he does not give much nodding or anything else. There is lots of eye contact though, which can make up for it all. Kat, on the other hand, is more of a time-oriented listener. This is due to the main parts in the beginning where she always had somewhere to be with Patrick. All early interactions were considered to be short, to the point, and she had other places to be.

The two, at the beginning, would be considered acquaintances. It does not seem Kat is reciprocating and wants to be left alone. Patrick still persists, which then moves immediately into the intimate relationship. Patrick and Kat almost skip the friends stage as there is not ever initiation, responsiveness, or self-disclosure. The two tend to migrate back and forth between acquaintances and intimates because the two are always faithful, despite anything else. Everything else is off. Neither are collaborative or dependable at the same time. While they are willing together, the other three guidelines are not met, nor is the relationship as close when it is looked at closely. 

I think there could be some  perceptual difference because Kat has an emotionless face at times, so what she says might be taken in a rude way. It is the same in a way with Patrick too because he is taken to be a bad boy. The two seem similar, but are also extremely different. While Kat is never shocked by what people say until the end, Patrick tends to have a selective purpose at most times in the beginning. Personally, I feel as if the two also have a forced consistency at times. Both have similar reactions to certain situations, such as the feelings the two have for each other they want to ignore at first. Their perceptions of each other changed over the course of the movie, as both grow feelings. It is also important to point out Kat sought out clarification respectfully by perception checking. She questioned Patrick about the rumors about him in order to put them to a rest, or for her to learn the truth. This helped her seek clarification and realize that her perception of Patrick had changed.

Throughout the film, 10 Things I Hate About You has multiple characters with multiple different types of communication being used. Though, the mainly focused and worked on characters, to me, were Patrick and Kat. The two both grew as people and fell in love, learning a lot about each other. All of it was done using communication skills too, making it an interesting film to analyze.

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