Paul Watzlawick was born on 25th of July 1921 in Villach, Kärnten. He graduated from high school in 1939 and studied philology and philosophy in Venice. After he was awarded a doctorate he started training as a psychotherapist in Zurich. He became professor for psychotherapy in San Salvador. Between 1957 and 1960 his studies mainly focused on communication and therapy of families. He integrated his own clinical experience with clients in his studies. He was appointed by the Palo-Alto Group to do some research at the Mental Research Institute. Thereafter, he worked at the Stanford University as professor for psychiatry from 1967. He died in Palo Alto in 2007 and donated his body to science.

Communication Theory / Paul WatzlawickBearbeiten

Watzlawick created a communication theory which is based on 5 pragmatic axioms.

1. One can not not communicateBearbeiten

The main aspect of Watzlawick´s theory is that one can not not communicate. That means that we communicate all the time, even if we don’t speak. Instead of using words, we communicate with facial expressions and gestures.

2. Every communication depends on two aspectsBearbeiten

a. Content When you say something, it means that you want to send a message to another person. But how the message is understood by the other person strongly depends on the second aspect, the relationship level

b. Relationship level The relationship level influences the way we understand the message. This means that our relationship towards the other person is greatly important. For example we might be opposed to this person and therefore don´t hear the real message he gives. Or we get mixed messages as our “gut feeling” tells us something else than the words we actually hear. What we hear on the relationship level is stronger. The relationship level influences the content.

3. The nature of a relationship is dependent on the punctuation of the partners communications procedureBearbeiten

Both the sender and the receiver of information structure the communication flow differently. They interpret their own behavior merely as a reaction on the other person´s behavior. Human communication cannot be abstracted into plain cause and response, but communication rather appears to be cyclic.

4. Human communication involves both digital and analog modalitiesBearbeiten

Communication does not only involve spoken words (digital communication), but non-verbal and analog-verbal communication as well.

5. Inter-human communication procedures are either symmetric or complementaryBearbeiten

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.

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