Communication: You strange mysterious SOMETHING by Conny Dethloff


      Communication --> (threefold) selection of Deeming, Telling, and Understanding


In her article, Gitta Peyn described investigating conflict dynamics with SelFis, how conflict dynamics can be investigated in the context of communication. These studies are based on a system of communication, which should be understood in order to understand the studies mentioned in Gitta's contribution. With this article I would like to turn to this communication system.
Original article by Conny Dethloff -->





In the picture above you can see a schematic representation of the communication system. If you are familiar with the Niklas Luhmann system, you will see differences that I will talk about at the end of the article.


I will now deal with the 3 parts of the communication system, Deeming, Telling and Understanding.




The communication system is not about content, but only about form, more precisely about FORMS of communication. Contents, i.e. the WHAT, are not reflected in the system. Accordingly, information does not function as a (partial) element of the “communication” system, but can only be processed as a topic. I will illustrate this using an example below.


It is therefore important to understand that UNDERSTANDING is not understood here in the sense of


I UNDERSTOOD what you said,


but in the sense of


I UNDERSTOOD that you want something from me.


So I can answer my wife's question


Did you UNDERSTAND me?


only immediately with




Because if I had NOT UNDERSTOOD, I could not have answered. I would have ignored my wife's question. I would have assumed no communication behaviour by her. It is similar to the question


Are you already awake?


I can only reply with




if I answer at all. Because if I had slept, I would have missed the question and couldn't answer.


Perhaps our colloquial language does a bit of a trick here when it comes to UNDERSTANDING, since colloquially with this term also contents are reflected. For this I use the term GRASPING (deutsch: BEGREIFEN). Since communication systems are about follow-up communication and not about information transfer, GRASPING does not matter. The question


Do you UNDERSTAND what I said?


is not relevant for subsequent communication, it can also continue to communicate without understanding content wise between the people involved in communication. A relevant question would be


DO YOU UNDERSTAND that I said something to you?


with "What", I would have to ask


Do you GRASP what I said?


If I answer the question








I still UNDERSTAND, because I reacted.





It is important to recognize that DEEMING is assumed by Ego with regard to Alter. Whether Alter DEEMS something or not does not matter for the establishment of communication. Alter can definitely intend to DEEM and to TELL something: if Ego does not interpret the behavior as TELLING, communication does not take place.


Let us stay with the example of my wife and me. The starting point for communication as to whether I could DEEM something or not, is my wife, not me. Based on the observation of my behaviour, she decides that I DEEM something. And with that, she also assumes a TELLING. And regardless of whether I want to DEEM or TELL something at all. TELLING without DEEMING does not work in the context of communication. If we believe to observe something like this, it is not “real” communication. Gitta Peyn demonstrated this in her article to the two SelFis Slit without and with re-entry, which I mentioned above, and specified her term of communication here for those who are more interested.


DEEMING means that Ego creates meaning in the behaviour of Alter, Ego assigns meaning to Alter's TELLING behaviour and namely communicative meaning.



An Example

I buy flowers and put them on the table in our dining room at home. If my wife completely ignores this phenomenon, she doesn't UNDERSTAND. There is no communication generated regarding the flowers. If she doesn't ignore this phenomenon, she UNDERSTANDS. Communication comes about because she assumes a TELLING through the act of buying flowers. Then she assumes that I DEEM something by it. Sure, I don't buy flowers for no reason.


But this DEEMING is independent of my reason for buying. My wife's assumed DEEMING of me a and my reason for buying, my DEEMING, can match, but do not have to. To make matters worse, the checking is difficult or even impossible to comprehend. Maybe I bought the flowers because I wanted our house to be a little greener inside, or because the flowers were on sale or or or or. But my wife could assume something completely different. She might get the idea that I bought the flowers because I want to apologize because yesterday evening, instead of watching a movie with her, I watched football on TV. And that is crucial. Because she UNDERSTANDS and based on her imagined reason for my flower purchase, communication arises, not based on my intention, why I bought the flowers.


So far my wife is Ego, I am Alter. And now we can see that and how exactly, because we cannot understand the content of what each other deems on the spot, follow-up communication can take place.


Now my wife could say to me:


Thank you. But I'm still a little pissed off.


If I do not notice this, I do not UNDERSTAND and the communication regarding the topic “flowers” stops. If I notice that, I UNDERSTAND. Communication continues and I am Ego and my wife is Alter.


Now I assume my wife a DEEMING and a TELLING behavior. For example, I could interpret that my wife is upset because the day before yesterday I threw away flowers that were on the table because I thought they were already withered and my wife didn't. Football does not even come to my mind when it comes to being peeved at me. So I react to my assumed DEEMING of my wife, not on her DEEMING. I roll my eyes but don't say anything.


And now again. If my wife does not notice the rolling of my eyes, she doesn't UNDERSTAND and the communication about the topic "flowers" is over. If she notices that, she UNDERSTANDS. She assumes my DEEMING and TELLING behaviour. Communication continues. We change again the roles of Ego and Alter. And so it can go on and on.


Here I stop the example and hope that the system “Communication” has been illustrated. Incidentally, Alter and Ego are not limited to people, but can also be groups of people who communicate.




One thing is important to me to emphasize. The content I formulated here, which I add as an example, such as “Flowers were on offer”, “Being peeved for watching football” etc. in order to describe the act of communication more clearly are not part of the “Communication” system. It's all about the FORM. If communication could actually contain contents how it is relevant for psyches, it could operate psychologically. If it could, psyches would not organize themselves autopoietically and we could put information into them. However, psychic information is generated in the psyche, not transported from psyche to psyche. The social system itself generates social information via follow-up communication.


And at this point I will speak about Niklas Luhmann, as indicated at the beginning of this article. Luhmann also saw and often described this fact with the psyche described above, but in my eyes considered it in his communication system insufficiently. His model consists of the three parts of Information, Telling and Understanding.


However, information cannot be part of the elements of communication. Whether follow-up communication and how follow-up communication connects previous and expected communication cannot be determined in advance by previous communication. And since psyches cannot intervene in communication, psychic content cannot be put into communication. They are created exclusively by and in psychic sign processes.


In 2013 I wrote the article Communication 2.0 - Said is neither heard nor understood, in which I addressed the Luhmann communication system and did not recognize this inconsistency. I have developed further in this regard and made the communication system more coherent with my experience. A journey of understanding that never ends. Thank you Gitta and Ralf Peyn for this gain of knowledge that I have generated from many conversations with you.


A central observation that can be derived from this, which was for a long time beyond my GRASPING, is that people do not communicate. Communication communicates. Humans are the context of the observed “communication” system, not content. This means that people can stimulate communication by adding “energy” to the system, which is then converted. They can try to say something and thus initiate communication. However, whether communication reacts and how, people can neither pinpoint nor predict.


In my eyes, people can and should, of course, influence the quality of communication, but not intentionally and therefore not directly, similar to oxygen in the “human system". Humans cannot be without oxygen. Communication cannot be without people. But just as oxygen cannot operatively intend the “human system", human beings cannot operatively intend communication.


Just because we humans cannot communicate it doesn’t automatically mean that we shouldn’t "worry" about communication as we don’t have any influence on the quality of it anyway. If I believed that, I would not have to write this article. For example, by trying to use clear, unambiguous language (“energy supply”) and consciously paying attention to the use of characters (“energy supply”), we could increase the likelihood of successful communication.


It is not part of the communication system whether I DEEM “A” and my counterpart also assumes “A” in my DEEMING. It is interesting whether my counterpart assumes my DEEMING and focuses on trying to fathom this DEEMING, regardless of whether it works or can work. This focus (“energy supply”) influences the quality of communication.


In our introductory seminars on complexity organization, we address exactly these possible “energy supplies” in the communication system, in which we interpret the 6 basic models of communication including combinations of these via emulated SelFis in order to uncover dynamics and derive possible actions for improvements in communication.


The translation was carried out by means of Google translate, responsible for the translation Jürgen Große-Puppendahl

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