(acima foto de Joseph Kosuth One and Three Chairs)
A esta pergunta tenta responder Paul Watzlawick na sua obra traduzida para o português How real is real?
Podem aqui recordar os 5 axiomas da comunicação da Escola de Palo Alto, em versão sumária:
- One cannot not communicate: Every behavior is a form of communication. Because behavior does not have a counterpart (there is no anti-behavior), it is impossible not to communicate. Even if communication is being avoided (such as the unconscious use of non-verbals or symptom strategy), that is a form of communication. “Symptom strategy” is ascribing our silence to something beyond our control and makes no communication impossible. Examples of symptom strategy are sleepiness, headaches, and drunkenness. Even facial expressions, digital communication, and being silent can be analyzed as communication by a receiver.
- Every communication has a content and relationship aspect such that the latter classifies the former and is therefore a metacommunication: All communication includes, apart from the plain meaning of words, more information. This information is based on how the speaker wants to be understood and how he himself sees his relation to the receiver of information. Relationship is the command part of the message or how it is non-verbally said. Content is the report or what is said verbally. Being able to interpret both of these aspects is essential in understanding something that a communicator said. The relational aspect of interaction is known as metacommunication. Metacommunication is communication about communication. Relationship messages are always the most important element in communication.
- The nature of a relationship is dependent on the punctuation of the partners communication procedures: Both the sender and the receiver of information structure the communication flow differently and therefore interpret their own behavior during communicating as merely a reaction on the other’s behavior (i.e., every partner thinks the other one is the cause of a specific behavior). To punctuate a communication means to interpret an ongoing sequence of events by labeling one event as the cause and the following event as the response. In a situation with communication, if one thing happens, something else always happens. For example, a female in a relationship with a male is feeling depressed. The male in the relationship with the female feels guilty. One who observes this situation might ask, “Is she depressed because of his guilt, or does he feel guilty because of her depression?”
- Human communication involves both digital and analog modalities: This axiom refers back to the use of non-verbals and system strategy explained in the first axiom. It is mostly related to the digital content of communication within a relationship.
- Inter-human communication procedures are either symmetric or complementary: This axiom focuses on metacommunication with two main components called symmetrical interchange and complementary interchange. Symmetrical interchange is an interaction based on equal power between communicators. In accordance to that, complementary interchange is an interaction based on differences in power. Within these two interchanges there are three different ways they can be used: one-up, one-down, and one-across. With a one-up communication, one communicator attempts to gain control of an exchange by dominating the overall communication. A one-down communication has the opposite effect. A communicator attempts to yield control of an interaction or submit to someone. The final message is a one-across communication. This communication moves to neutralize a situation. This is also called transitory if only one communicator is attempting this style. When two communicators use the same style of one-up, one-down, or one-across, it is symmetrical. If they are opposing one another it is complementary. This axiom allows us to understand how an interaction can be perceived by the styles a communicator is using