How can I practically learn analog communication

Rules for improving communication in seminars

The practical application of psychological knowledge (...) requires action and the courage to often ruthlessly neglect theoretical details. When applied psychology formulates advice for practitioners, it must always deal with problems that are more complex than they can be considered in the theoretical occupation and it must make decisions between alternative courses of action, give clear advice and cannot weigh up contingencies remain.
Kirchler 1995, p. IX

"Instructions for use"

These learning aid rules for improving communication are intended to improve the atmosphere in seminars, which is sometimes dominated by real competition and imagined pressure to perform. They should replace the mostly informal and implicit rules of conduct and lead to real cooperation.

You are only one of many in a course, but You alone are responsible for yourself and your success. These rules are not rigid laws and should not be constantly monitored for compliance. The aim is for the behavior described to become a matter of course over time.

Assume that you have learning needs that your colleagues in the course do not know, that even the leaders can only guess at.

In other words, so that everyone learns what is best, most effective and most necessary for them, everyone must also express their individual learning needs and wishes.

Assume that you can help control the learning process.

This means that the responsibility for what everyone learns in the event lies partly with each participant, and everyone has to take action so that he learns something. Becoming active means that every participant says clearly from the beginning - and again and again - what they would like to learn from colleagues and managers. However, you should also show yourself ready to provide information and exchange experiences.

Try to express the ideas you have of the possible learning outcomes over and over again

This means that it is useful and necessary for learning success if you also make the following statements and make demands such as:
- "Couldn't you treat that a little more intensely?"
- "Can someone explain that to me in simpler terms?"
- "I think this problem is quite unimportant!"
- "I already know all that!"

If you find your learning needs unsatisfied, ask what you and others can do to help satisfy them, and what initiatives could help resolve them.

In other words, do not withdraw if you notice that your problems and needs are not being addressed, but express yourself and think about how the situation can be changed with your colleagues and management. It is enough to say, for example: "I imagined it differently", or: "Could someone give me more information here, recommend literature, recommend other seminars", etc.

Interrupt the conversation if you really cannot attend, for example if you are bored or angry, or if you feel isolated from what is going on in the group for any other reason.

This means that it makes more sense for learning not to suppress boredom or anger or to react outside of the events, but rather to express one's feelings and communicate them to the other participants. Perhaps the others are in a similar position. Such a situation or a similar situation can only be changed if it becomes visible, i.e. if it is spoken out loud.

Do not speak by "Man", but by "I".

That is, the "man" in personal speech is often a "hiding" from one's own responsibility. The "man" flattens opinions, appears general and impersonal.

Do not only make statements about the content (material), but also make personal statements more often.

That is, learning always takes place on two levels: on the one hand, in which content (material) is conveyed and exchanged (= content level) and on the other hand, in which feelings are also shaped and changed through this conveyance of content (= feeling level). For example, as a learner, I can sometimes be annoyed by the way in which a lecturer, teacher, colleague speaks to me; or I am happy about the fact that someone speaks to me or asks me. But when I'm angry, I can no longer follow the learning content as far as I could if I were balanced. It is therefore necessary to make statements about the moods that occur during learning.

Think of the learning process as mutual: that you are important to the leadership and the leaders are important to you.

This means that most of the time it is clear to the learners that the teacher, leader is important to them, but they are seldom aware that the leader also learns from the participants and is also influenced by the moods of the participants.

Eleven deadly sins of communication

See in detail
The Eleven Deadly Sins of Communication - And How To Do Better ...

Behave condescendingly

1. Evaluate
2. Consoling
3. Playing the "psychologist" and "labeling"
4. Make ironic remarks
5. Asking exaggerated or inappropriate questions

Set signals

6. Command and give the other no choice
7. Threaten the other
8. Give unsolicited advice


9. Be vague
10. Withhold information
11. Diversion maneuvers

See also Avoiding Misunderstandings - Committing to Reflective Use of Language

Watzlawick's rules of communication

The Communication therapy tries to analyze human problems as communication disorders.

Source: Ernst Heiko: What is communication psychology? Psychology Today, October 1976, p. 62.

Watzlawick, Beavin & Jackson sometimes use the term axiom for this, therefore not in the usual meaning of the term, namely as an unprovable or unproven basic assumption on which a theory is based. The authors understand this to be properties of communication that are effective in the area of ​​interpersonal relationships. We should therefore correctly speak of the "rules" of communication.
Watzlawick and his coworkers won the communication theory in the therapeutic work with schizophrenic patient groups, especially with families, in which the schizophrenia occurred repeatedly. They investigated the communication structures of schizophrenics and came to the conclusion that they basically cannot provide certain forms of everyday communication that keep normal people from getting into hopeless situations. Basically, schizophrenia should be understood as a fundamental communication disorder, and therapy should begin with communication that causes illness.
  • you can not communicate. Silence and inaction also have the character of a message.
  • Every communication has one Content aspect (Information, data, facts) and one Relationship aspect (the interpersonal relationship between sender and recipient). On the "factual level, the contents are communicated, on the" relationship level there is communication. how content is to be understood. A simple example: someone says: You won the lottery! (Content) and grins (relationship). The recipient assesses the message based on the grin and knows that they should be kidnapped. Relationship aspects are expressed in facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice, among other things.
    See in detail: The four sides of a message
  • Human communication is not resolvable in causal chains. Nobody can state exactly who, for example, really "started" in a dispute. Beginnings are only set subjectively, as so-called "punctuation".
  • There is digital and analog communication.
    • The digitalcommunication refers to words and sentences associated with certain objects. This language is logical, abstract and represents the content aspect. The digital language primarily conveys information. It does not provide any guidance on how this information should be assessed and interpreted. The extreme case of digital communication: a speaking computer.
    • The analogcommunication has a much more direct, closer relationship with the objects it represents. It is based on archaic forms of communication and therefore has a more general validity and distribution than the much more recent digital communication. Analog communication does not refer to things (like digital [image] communication), but to the relationship between things (or people).
  • As a participant and recipient of communication, one must constantly switch between the two "languages translate and translate back. Analog communication in particular harbors numerous possibilities for errors. Sensations are expressed in analog language because they elude logical digital communication. This is the crux of the cause of dysfunction in interpersonal relationships. Such communication disorders, as they result from the assumptions of communication theory outlined above, occur particularly frequently,
    • if Content and relationship aspects do not match. This, in the extreme case, schizophrenogenic situation is given, for example, when a mother verbally (digitally) demands love from her child, but indicates in behavior and expression (analogue) that she rejects the child's expressions of love. For example, she becomes as stiff as a stick with hugs that she has previously signaled as wanted. and thereby communicates: "I don't want your love". The child thus lives in a double bond: It should love the mother, but is not allowed to do so;
    • if certain content cannot be effectively communicated digitally (for whatever reason), a way of communicating in analogue can be sought. which is often expressed in physical symptoms ("I need love, don't you see how sick I am?").
  • Many communication problems can only be seen through and solved by those involved when they step out of the established system and talk about their way of talking to one another ("Meta communication").

Watzlawick axioms in the light of digital communication

According to communication expert Andrea Köhler-Ludescher, Paul Watzlawick's axioms on communication also seem to apply to online behavior. Watzlawick's first and probably best-known axiom, "You can't not communicate", is easily observable virtually, because social media refusers communicate by staying away from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or WhatsApp.

The problem of Differentiation between content and relationship level becomes particularly clear online, because the relationship level can often not be interpreted so easily and can therefore lead to conflicts. Also phenomena like Shitstorms or Hate postings can be explained by the strong reduction to the content, because if you don't know someone, then the inhibition threshold also decreases.

Watzlawick described the Relationship level as strongly analog, because it contains a lot that goes beyond what is spoken, the digital, such as the pitch of the voice or the body language. This is missing on the Internet and thus forms a further source of misunderstanding, as it is well known that only a fraction of a relationship is communicated through language, but the remaining part is communicated non-verbally. Due to the often high presence on social media, some people unlearn how to correctly interpret analog signals. The use of Emoticons and emojis However, it is a way of providing additional information on what has been said, i.e. to illustrate how someone meant something. In the real world this is marked by voice melody, facial expressions and gestures, in the virtual world such visual information, from a simple string of punctuation marks to animated picture elements, can represent a communication support.

Automatic replies through Chatbots or other digital instruments are therefore to be viewed critically, because people need the feeling of being heard in order to create a healthy self-awareness. If this feeling erodes because what comes back is no longer personal, then it definitely has a certain effect on people, for example in connection with those that are currently emerging digital assistants like Siri, Echo or Alexa.

A massive distortion of one's own online reality arises, according to Andrea Köhler-Ludescher, in the phenomenon of Filter bubblesthat those Isolation process describe that is carried by more and more pre-written information as new information is conveyed by computer systems such as search engines primarily provide information based on one's own interests. A resonance within such a closed system corresponds to Watzlawick's 'More of the same' phenomenon, i.e. In other words, one always turns in a circle, so to speak, and is caught in a certain narrow perspective because of one's own surroundings.

source: The November 15, 2017 standard.

Criticism of Watzlawick

Girgensohn-Marchand (1966) demands in her book not to believe everything that a well-known scientist like Watzlawick may spread as weighty knowledge, but which is actually often trivial and sometimes even wrong. Watzlawick's theory has a peculiar fascination that led many scientists to identify with it without actually subjecting the statements to a critical analysis. The fascination mostly did not concern the theory, but the person and the interesting "stories" in connection with everyday communication, which Watzlawick told and which he regarded as proof of the normality of communication disorders, the paradoxes of everyday communication and the constructivist character of our reality. Watzlawick's terminology is sometimes fuzzy, sometimes confusing, and very often contradicting itself.

What Watzlawick has in his first axiom is much more precisely formulated with the statement: Not wanting to communicate is - if the communicants perceive each other - to the extent that the behavior that is controlled by this intention is usually also perceived by the actors. The logical paradox of Watzlawick's definition is that mutual perception is on the one hand a prerequisite for communication, on the other hand it is communication itself.

The important question of how the selection process of perception is structured, which turns what is perceived into a (relevant) "message", remains unanswered in his theory. Watzlawick's loose equation of "communication" and "behavior" is also misleading, because "behavior" is by no means identical with "perceived behavior"; rather, behavior exists independently of communication. The statement that behavior always means communication is therefore simply wrong. Watzlawick's assertion that the digital communication mode is semantically precise, but does not contribute anything to the relationship level, while the analog mode (non-verbal language) constitutes the relationship level, but is ambiguous, only applies with restrictions: a clear sign ("finger finger") is often more accurate than an explanation. In doing so, Watzlawick completely neglects the connotative aspect of language.


Girgensohn-Marchand, Bettina (1996). The Watzlawick myth and its consequences. A pamphlet against systemic and constructivist thinking in pedagogical contexts. Weinheim: Beltz.

Kirchler, Erich M. (1995). Business psychology. Göttingen: Hogrefe. (01-06-02) (01-12-02)

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