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blindingly simple speech acts metacommunication
Let us be open with each other.
Let us not spend time on blame - let us look for solutions

These statements are simple. But  in every context I can imagine them said (or where someone might feel it necessary to state them) there would be an element of metacommunication. In other words, the act of making these statements is itself significant.

So metacommunication is a form of communication that means different things at different levels.

The concept of metacommunication was introduced by Gregory Bateson and others.

In its basic form, a metacommunication is an act of communication between two agents that also communicates something about the communication itself, or about the relationship between the two agents, or both.

Metacommunication is one of the characteristic features of complex systems.

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Examples of Metacommunication

veryard projects > system > metacommunication > examples

In a conversational exchange between two agents A and B, A offers a solution to a technical problem faced by B. There is almost always a metacommunication in such situations, concerning A's status as an (ongoing) source of technical advice to B, although this is often left unspoken. Managers with strong technical backgrounds are prone to give conflicting metacommunications to their staff - both "I enjoy solving these technical problems" and "You should have been able to solve this one for yourself".
The speech act "Trust Me" often conveys the exact opposite of its literal meaning. 
It is hard to deploy knowledge without at the same time implying some claim over this knowledge. The stance of expertise always implies that we can (should) trust some body of knowledge, and therefore also trust the bearer of this

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This page last updated on July 22nd, 2004
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