I speak of meta-communication in terms of talk about talk, about speech-communication itself, as the eye looking at itself and the ear hearing itself and the emotion about your own feelings: touching yourself, tasting yourself, smelling yourself. Theatre people speak of “aesthetic distance”, the actor seeing the self acting from the perspective of the actor sitting in the balcony. How do you talk about how you communicate. About your own verbal communication, or nonverbal communication —
are you able to command a self-awareness to indulge in
talk about how you are talking?

Empathy is one person participating vicariously in another’s experience with overt muscular imitation. Meta-communication is that level of participation, only consciously, in one’s own experience through self-awareness of responses.

Metacommunicative Awareness Skills

  1. Articulate in your thought process what you are attending to.
  2. Name your focus in the verbal elements and nonverbal elements of your focus object or situation. Start a process to take control of yourself.
  3. Label your emotional response to the focus of your attention.
  4. Judge the most dominant or important element of the persons or elements you are focused on.
  5. Extend your attention to the element you have judged and chosen to be the most important element you have to attend to.
  6. Prolonging attention is the ability to concentrate. If this is a dialog situation, speak to the participants at every above phase of your thought process, the elements of communication available in the bahaviors observed, the appropriateness and inappropriateness and importance of each in the situation. Where appropriate, bring out your response to how the on-going flow of every phase of the interaction. Is the vocal volume too loud or strident? Is the language distracting? Are the long pauses indicative of something significant?
  7. Good metacommunicators know the physical, emotional, and intellectual processes that groups go through to solve problems, and make good leaders of group dynamics (harnessing the explosive power of dynamite, so to speak).
  8. Meta-Communication “virtues”, “advantages”: Perspicacity. Circumspection. Astuteness.

Someone wanted a further explanation of metacommunication. Here it is.

“I want to know what meta communication is? And the opposite of meta communication with regards to conscious and unconscious communication.”
[[[[[[JFD replies: Simply put, it is YOU talking about how YOU are talking. Do you see and hear yourself actually talking?
(1) to another person (in conversation)?
(2) to several people at once (small group communication)?
(3) to a large group (public speaking)?
(4) to a mass audience (mediated over the radio or television to unseen listeners)?
(5) communicating without seeing yourself as others may see you (your dress, your vocalics, your economic status
and the many, many dimensions of your nonverbal communication which “speak” about you without your having to say anything orally-verbally.
Tell me,  how you are doing? as a talker? Can you tell me, see and hear yourself as you do it ?
Are you self-aware.

Another facet of metacommunication is, “How are we going to talk about this?” That is a more projective slant, setting the ground-rules,
or procedures, or expectations for any talk about to be undertaken. It is anticipation for talk about to be entered into, how settle disputes,
how we shall order the speakers, how the program will proceed, how the topic is to be limited. Anticipate as much as can be foreseen
about the communication being entered. That may involve group meetings, but it may also involve a husband and a wife making agreements about
topics, words off-limits, and much more.

The opposite is probably speaking without any anticipation, speaking impromptu, disorderly, out of order, unprepared, speaking blindly without any care for others or the situation — monologueing,
reading the speech, careless of how you want to appear, and be heard, and of what you want to be received, even though there are many signs
that “the natives are getting restless”! I can visualize a professor standing before a class, running off at the mouth as only he desires,
to get it over with, and get out of the hour, as his drudgery for fulfilling his contract to lecture. Something like that. Or else, mob-speak, as in the recent demonstrations to protest Wall Street. That “speechifying” and shouting is mostly unplanned spontaneous, spur of the moment, talk that has no meta-communicative  awareness or consciousness. It has been dissipative of energy incapable of being put back into the bottle for better uses, not concentration of energy, for high efficiency in use of energy. That is the opposite, the absence of “metacommunication”. Got a better idea? I call it, “speaking in your unawares”.



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