Effective communication according to Paul Watzlawick

Effective communication according to Paul Watzlawick

Paul Watzlawick was an Austrian psychologist and researcher who proposed five axioms to achieve effective communication.He is considered one of the most important contemporary theorists on communication. He has also brought many elements to applied psychotherapy in the family field.

This man started in 1967 to work on the theme of effective communication.He thought that this aspect was fundamental to understanding and improving human relations, especially at the family level. It is from there that his five axioms were born. Sometimes they are also called inter-relational theory.

"The belief that our own vision of reality is the one and only truth is the most dangerous delusion."

Paul Watzlawick-

Paul Watzlawick was also a very prolific writer. He has published 18 books and about 150 academic articles.He has conducted research at the Mental Research Institute at Palo Alto University (California, USA) and has been a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. Here are his five axioms and fundamental principles of effective communication.

It is impossible not to communicate

The first axiom of Paul Watzlawick's theory points out that it is impossible not to communicate.Every human being communicates from birth. He can not avoid it. Even if he does not speak, his body will always communicate something.

The look, the posture, the expression of the face and the body are ways to manifest our thoughts.Silence or tranquility are even ways of communicating a message. Therefore, communication is inherent to the human being.

Content, relationship and punctuation

The second axiom of Paul Watzlawick points out that all communication has two levels: one of content and the other of relationship.In other words, a message acquires meaning through what is said, but also through the link between the two people who communicate. Tell the other person that he is "stupid" can be an offense, a joke or even a sign of attachment. It all depends on the context.

For its part, the third axiom speaks of punctuation or the way in which communication between two people flows or stops.Each part helps to give continuity, modulate or expand the exchange that occurs with communication.

Analogue and digital – Symmetrical and complementary

The fourth axiom of Paul Watzlawick states that there are two basic types of communication: digital or verbal communication and analog or nonverbal communication.Therefore, it is not only the words exchanged that have an influence but also the way they are said. This is a complete message.

Finally, the fifth axiom indicates that communication can be symmetrical or complementary.Symmetrical communication is that which takes place between equals. The complementary is the one that occurs vertically, that is to say between a person who has power and another who does not.

Effective communication

All of these axioms allowed Watzlawick to establish effective communication parameters.This occurs when the axioms work properly and when people manage to tune the themes and tones on which they speak.

In particular, we talk about effective communication when these criteria are met:

  • The code is correct.We say or manifest a message with the words and expressions that really make it possible to understand what we want to convey. A declaration of love is not made through an equation.
  • We avoid the alterations of the code.In other words, we must avoid unclear expressions, words or gestures. We must look for accuracy.
  • We take into account the situation of the receiver.When we say something, we must consider the characteristics and the situation of the person who will listen to it or read it. For example, it is obvious that we do not speak in the same way to a child and an adult.
  • The framework in which the communication takes place is analyzed.The context is taken into account. Communication must be consistent with the situation in which it occurs. For example, we must avoid saying a joke at funerals.
  • Punctuation in the sequence of events is well defined.This means that communication has an adequate pace. We alternate the breaks with the demonstrations of each, in a propitious tone.
  • Digital communication is consistent with analog communication.Verbal language is consistent with nonverbal language.
  • The person who communicates has a good receiver.The people involved know how to speak and listen.

Paul Watzlawick points out that communication fails mainly when people fail to distance themselves from their own point of view. Or when they exchange words with others.In this case, the listening is broken and it is impossible to be understood.

Paul Watzlawick and the theory of human communication

According to the Austrian psychologist Paul Watzlawick, communication plays a fundamental role in our lives and in the social order. Learn more
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