Can you imagine something without an axiom

Watzlawik's axioms. An application in everyday school life



The axioms

Basic assumptions about communication

Axiom # 1

Axiom # 2

Axiom # 3

Axiom # 4

Axiom # 5

The 5 axioms in school

"Paul is a classic truant"

"Your method is so creative!"

"Now be quiet!"

"Mr. Schneider puts everything on the gold scales!"

"Our headmaster didn't hear the shot."




As a prospective teacher, you learn a lot of subject-specific content. In the meantime, I can now explain the radiation budget of our earth in great detail or break down a word into its smallest components. But do you need that as a teacher? The question that arises for me is which skills are particularly important for a teacher. Of course, it is the ability to convey content. They should be exciting and informative without losing too much of their content. But that alone is not enough to be a good teacher. You have to have an infinite amount of patience and always approach students with a positive attitude.

If you take a closer look at the skills, you will notice that all of the required skills have a common foundation: communication. And it is precisely this aspect that is unfortunately all too often neglected in the course of studies. You learn the communication models, but you don't learn how to use them. Communication seems to be a matter of course that doesn't need to be explained in more detail.

In a presentation, my group and I presented several communication models. My focus was on the five axioms of Paul Watzlawik. And I got the impression that these axioms were not unrealistic like other communication models. The longer I looked at it, the more I asked myself whether Watzlawik's model could also be used in school. For me, school is one of the most communicative places.

This is how the idea for this housework was born, asking whether Watzlawick's five axioms are applicable in school. To answer this question, I will present the axioms in more detail and then apply them to examples of communication in school. In a final conclusion, I will take an argumentative position on the question.

The axioms

When it comes to communication, Watzlawik distinguishes five different axioms, which always apply and which cannot be avoided. Before doing this, however, its basic assumptions regarding communication must be explained in more detail.

Basic assumptions about communication

According to Paul Watzlawick, the basic assumptions (axioms) about the success and about disturbances in communication are formulations that can be understood from within (Watzlawik 2007: 50). They mark the importance of the relationship side in communication. They also show that the partners usually live in constructed realities that they have "thought up" themselves and in which different modalities communication takes place (Watzlawik 2007: 22-24).

Communication does not only mean exchanging or transmitting information, but also connecting with one another, communicating, understanding one another, because communication not only has something to do with content, but also with appeals and relationships (Watzlawik 2007: 24-28).

Axiom # 1

You can't Not communicate.

As absurd as the first axiom sounds, one instinctively understands what is meant by it. Watzlawik himself says that you cannot not communicate, because all communication (not just with words) is behavior and just as you cannot not behave, you cannot not communicate (Watzlawik 1990: 50-52).

One cannot not communicate means, on the one hand, that in our human society it is not possible to evade contact with the other, communication as such. Where it happens or is enforced, social death occurs. In the extreme case, as experiments from earlier times have shown, also physical death. Social death is understood as the fact that a person is completely lonely without any connection to his environment.[1]

For the individual situation, however, the axiom also means that even if someone refuses to communicate (persistent silence, no acceptance of the offer to talk), communication still takes place (Watzlawik 2011: 13-15). A patient in the waiting room of a doctor's office looks at the floor and does not react to greetings or other influences from her environment. Now one could assume that the woman is not communicating. But that's not true because she communicates non-verbally. With her view of the ground and her disinterest, she shows those around her that she does not want to get in touch with them. She communicates that she does not want to communicate with the help of non-verbal communication.

Axiom # 2

Every communication has a content and a relationship aspect

Watzlawik writes more precisely that every communication has a content and a relationship aspect, with the latter determining the first (Watzlawik 1990: 53-56).

The content aspect is given the task of conveying information. The relationship aspect provides information about how the relationship is perceived by the recipient. With regard to the transfer to the communication situation, it can be said that there is no purely informative communication. Every utterance contains a relationship statement (Watzlawik 2011: 16-19). This axiom is a very important one because it overrides the presumption that communication is primarily the conveyance of information and the relationship aspect "over" the content aspect.

With everything that is said, it becomes clear what relationship there is with the recipient. The relationship aspect in communication provides information on how to understand the content. Even if only facts are talked about, the relationship to the other person is also defined at the same time. The way in which one speaks or asks questions (tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures) expresses the communicator's attitude towards the recipient (Watzlawik 2011: 16-19). Furthermore, it is clear that most of life, including at work or in business, is done in a relationship-driven manner. For example, students prefer to attend a lecturer's event because she is more personable, even if the students know that they can learn at least as much from the less likable lecturer.


[1] University of Oldenburg: http: //www.germanistik-kommprojekt.uni-

End of the reading sample from 13 pages