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SOME TENTATIVE AXIOMS OF COMMUNICATION Introduction - Simple properties of communication that have fundamental interpersonal implications - Those properties are in the nature of axioms within our hypothetical calculus of human communication The impossibility of not communicating - Basic property of behavior that is often overlooked: o Behavior has no opposite No such thing as nonbehavior One cannot not behave - All behavior in an interaction situation has message value (communication) o Thus, no matter how one may try, one cannot not communicate o Inactivity/activity, words/silence all have message value o In turn, the others cannot not respond to these communications and are thus themselves communicating EX: an airplane passenger who sits with his eyes closed communicates that he does not want to speak or be spoken to and the neighbors usually get “the message” by responding appropriately by leaving them alone - Communication is always taking place, even if it is not intentional, conscious, or successful o Whether message sent equals message received is an important but different order of analysis, it must ultimately rest on: Evaluations of specific, introspective, subject reported data We choose to neglect this for the exposition of a behavioral theory of communication - Term of communication used in two ways: o The generic title of our study o A loosely defined unit of behavior - Message o A single communicational unit - A communication: o When there is no possibility of confusion - Interaction o A series of messages exchanged between persons - Patterns of interaction o Higher level unit of human communication - Once we accept all behavior as communication, we will be dealing with: o A fluid and multifaceted compound of many behavioral modes Verbal, tonal, posture, contextual, etc. – all qualify the meaning of all the others - Impossibility of not communicating is part of the schizophrenic “dilemma”
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o Schizophrenic behaviors seen as one trying not to communicate o However, these behaviors – silence, withdrawal, etc. is still communication o Dilemma of the schizophrenic denying that he is communicating and at the same time denying that his denial is a communication - Any communication implies commitment: o Thereby defines the sender’s view of his relationship with the receiver o Thus, can be hypothesized that the schizophrenic behaves as if he would avoid commitment by not communicating - Summary of axiom: o A metacommunicational axiom of the pragmatics of communication can be assumed – one cannot not communicate The content and relationship levels of communication - Any communication implies a commitment and thereby defines the relationship o A communication not only conveys information but also imposes behavior o These two operations have come to be known as the “report” and the “command” aspects of any communication (respectively) - Physiological analogy of the report and command: o A, B, and C as a linear chain of neurons
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This note was uploaded on 03/17/2009 for the course COMM 3210 taught by Professor Craig during the Fall '08 term at Colorado.

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