The 5 Axioms Of Communication: What Are They?

Axioms of communication

Communicating is transmitting information or a message through a code known to those who are part of the communicative act and it is something fundamental in nature since it allows our survival (both in ourselves and in other living beings).

However, and as we can see from the existence of multiple languages, we do not all share the same codes, so understanding what others tell us can be difficult.

Despite this, the truth is that although we have different languages, symbols and ways of expressing ourselves, it is possible to observe a series of similarities in the way our codes work. These similarities have been the subject of study by numerous authors and have served as a basis for the creation of theories of communication and language. One of them, that of Watzlawick, Beavin and Jackson, proposes that there are different axioms of communication

What and what are these axioms? Let’s see it throughout this article.

Axioms of communication: what are they?

We know as axioms of communication the set of principles or laws considered true and universal and that govern all communicative exchanges, regardless of the type or number of interlocutors of the communication.

These were proposed by Watzlawick, Beavin and Jackson in their theory of human communication, in which they analyzed the most pragmatic part of language (the way in which communication can affect human behavior) and visualized the existence of five great principles or axioms that are taken as true and always fulfilled.

You may be interested:  Do Gender Stereotypes Harm Men?

Thus, every time we talk to a person, animal or even ourselves we are establishing a dialogue in which a few basic principles will always be fulfilled, even if we pretend otherwise. The axioms of communication obey the very structure and form of language and communicative act, and allow, among other things, to provide meaning and qualitatively understand human communication.

Now, it is necessary to keep in mind that although these principles are present in all communication, their meaning does not always have to be the same. And these principles are general but do not take into account the important role that culture has when it comes to explaining the meaning of our communicative acts: Each culture has its own perspective and way of seeing the world, including the way of expressing itself and the meaning it gives to each aspect of communication.

An important knowledge

The axioms of communication and their knowledge are a great advantage: they can help us understand how different people or even animals (although Watzlawick’s theory is that of human communication, it could be applicable to other beings) interact and send information to their peers, and begin to work from this understanding on ways to express or send information or modify maladaptive or even pathological communication patterns.

In this sense, it can allow you to work in areas such as psychology (not only at a theoretical level but also in therapy, as in the case of family or couples therapy), pedagogy, business or even marketing and advertising. .

The five axioms of communication

Watzlawick, Beavin and Jackson proposed a total of five axioms of communication, which we can observe below.

1. It is impossible not to communicate / all behavior is communicative

The first of the axioms of communication establishes that it is impossible for us not to communicate, regardless of our ability or will. And communicating is not just talking or not talking: every act we do, or even those we do not do, has a meaning that can be perceived or interpreted and alter the behavior of the recipients.

You may be interested:  6 Guidelines to Learn to Say 'no'

Even silence is communicative: the fact that a person is silent and does not speak can imply that they do not want to talk to us or say something, that they are uncomfortable with a specific topic or person, that they have not noticed or do not care about our presence or that is reflecting or resting, for example.

2. The interaction between content and relationship

The second of the axioms states that The message transmitted will be interpreted by the listener or the receiver depending on the relationship maintained with the sender Thus, the relationship between the actors or agents of the communicative exchange will determine how the message content should be understood, so that the content will have different meanings depending on who says it. The relationship becomes a metacommunicative element, since it directs the way in which the content will be interpreted.

To give an easy-to-understand example, it is not the same as being told “you are on the street” by a friend (who could literally be telling us where you are) or by our boss (in this case a dismissal is taking place).

3. Sequence punctuation in facts

The third of the axioms establishes that all types of communicative interaction occur bidirectionally: the sender and the receiver affect each other, one generating a reaction in the other and generating a certain sequence.

Although it occurs in all conversations, a very easy example to see is what happens, for example, in discussions, in which the conflict can escalate as one reacts to the other’s messages.

You may be interested:  How to Face the New Year When Situations Are Not Favorable?

4. Digital and analog communication

The fourth axiom establishes that when communicating we use and take into account both digital and analog communication, that is, both what is said (generally verbal) and the way in which it is said (non-verbal). So, You have to value both the words and other aspects such as gestures, tone, distance and position

In this sense, we can interpret very different things if someone tells us “you’re coming soon” smiling or if they say it to us sulking, with their arms on their hips and tapping their foot.

5. Symmetry and complementarity in interactions

The last of the proposed axioms is especially relevant in the organizational field, and establishes that we must take into account that there may be relationships of symmetry or complementarity in communicative relationships depending on whether everyone has the same role or position of power or whether this relationship is unequal.

Thus, there are communicative acts in which a person directs the exchange from a position of superiority (something that makes the exchange more restricted especially for those in the inferior position) while in other more symmetrical ones the communication is much more bidirectional and open. These different types of relationships can greatly determine the functionality and results of the communicative exchange. None of them are intrinsically positive or negative, but rather they can have different usefulness depending on the situations.

For example, in a symmetrical relationship, both members will be able to express themselves on equal terms and agree on how and where their relationship goes, while in a boss-employee relationship it will be the first who will decide where the company is going.