GrasshopperNotes.com - Thoughts for inspired living


December 21, 2011

Paradoxical Communication

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:01 am

Renaissance man, Gregory Bateson left us with the concept of “Paradoxical Communication.” For lack of a more detailed explanation, think of it as an instruction we’ve all received at one time or another – “Do as I say, not as I do.” That’s difficult to do, especially when you don’t know the difference.

We’re all really adept at paradoxical communication because we were taught very well by our parents and/or other early care givers. It seems we have all bought into, at some level, the fantasy that we should be judged on our words rather than our actions. That’s a paradox.

We can’t be taken seriously about our positions if we are standing in another position. If our own shoes hurt, why would we pass them on to someone we care about? It’s because we don’t recognize the level to which we are participating in paradoxical communication.

“Monkey see, monkey do” is more accurate than “Just do it,” but the latter is more ingrained than the other.

The trick to outgrowing anything is to first notice that you are doing it. I can assure you we are all paradoxically communicating; it’s just a matter of degree.

How often do your actions not match up with your words? Do a personal inventory and you’ll be amazed. It’s like a visit to the attic you haven’t looked at in years.

The sadder news is that we pass on this trait. The ones we care most about are the victims of our fantasy, just as we were the unwitting recipients of a philosophy that looked good on paper, but won’t help us pass the test.

The test in life is getting results. Results are hard to come by when we participate in paradoxical communication.

A productive step to outgrowing paradoxical communication is to immediately stop being an expert on what we talk about but don’t do. (Think Oprah on losing weight and keeping it off).

Again, it takes recognition that we are involved in a paradox. Once noticed, we have a better chance of outgrowing a philosophy that keeps us and those we pass it on to stuck.

Start small. Just notice one pearl of wisdom that’s still in the oyster that you’re claiming as your own and give it up. It will lead you off the slippery road of paradoxical communication, which is loaded with good intentions, onto a road with traction that only leads to good deeds.

 

All the best,

John

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