What Is Meta Communication?

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What Is Meta Communication?

Meta communication is a type of communication that takes place when people talk about their communication. It happens when we reflect on how we feel, what we want to say, and the way in which we are saying it. Meta communication allows us to manage our relationships more effectively by providing us with an opportunity to clarify our thoughts and feelings. It also helps us to understand the other person’s perspective better and can prevent misunderstandings from occurring.

An example of metacommunication would be if you are having a conversation with someone, and at some point, during the discussion, you start thinking to yourself, “Here we go again,” or “I wish he/she would stop doing that.” You might find yourself thinking about ways in which the person could improve their communication. This type of thought process is meta-communication.

Meta communication refers to the process of communication, including verbal and non-verbal communication. When a message is given, there are two main parts: the sender and the receiver. In a traditional model, the sender sends the message, and the receiver receives it. When this occurs, a person experiences frustration because he cannot figure out where he is in the communication. In a metacommunication, the sender and the recipient are both aware of the process, so they can respond appropriately.

1. How Is Meta Communication Used?

Meta communication can be used in a variety of ways to help manage our relationships. Here are some examples:

Providing Feedback 

If we think about what we do and say and how it affects others, we can use this information to give the other person (or ourselves) feedback on our behaviors. For example, if your co-worker is regularly taking longer breaks than the rest of the team, you might think to yourself, “I don’t like it when he/she leaves me to do their work,” and then try talking to him/her about this.

Identifying Unmet Needs

If we are not getting what we need in an interaction, meta-communication can help us recognize this faster. If our boss continually ignores our emails, for example, we might wonder why they aren’t replying or whether they are too busy at that moment. Once this thought has occurred, it might trigger other thoughts such as “Hmm… maybe I should send another email” or “Maybe I should ask them directly when I see them next.”

Manage Emotions 

If we are feeling a strong emotion such as frustration or anger, meta-communication can provide us with time to calm down and reflect on the situation. For example, if you have just been given some bad news by your manager, you might find yourself thinking, “I am so angry right now” or “I feel so hurt by this!” You might then think about why you are getting upset and what you could do next. This will allow you to either calm down before having a productive discussion about it later or give yourself a break from the other person until feelings have settled.

2. Few Examples of Meta-Communication

These are some examples of meta-communication:

  • “I’ve noticed that you get really angry at me for forgetting things. I think it’s because of the way in which you show your anger.”
  • “You need to be more assertive about what you want to do on the weekend; otherwise, we won’t go anywhere interesting, and we’ll end up staying home again.”
  • -“When you say ‘that was all my fault’ after we both make mistakes, it makes me feel like I can never do anything right and like everything is my responsibility.”

3. How Does Meta-Communication Help?

Meta communication can help us to better understand our own feelings and motivations. It helps us clarify our thoughts and emotions, which is helpful when there are misunderstandings between people. For example, if a person is angry with another, meta-communication can help them to understand what emotions are causing their anger. They might think, “I’m getting frustrated because the person won’t listen to me, and then I feel like they’re just attacking all of my ideas” rather than making assumptions such as “I’m feeling annoyed because he/she thinks that everything I say is stupid.” Different techniques depend on whether or not we know them well. If we don’t know them well, we may ask directly:

“Can you do this for me?” If we do know them well, there are more subtle techniques that can be used (called implicit communication). For example, you might ask someone if they like X band because you’ve noticed that they always seem to have their iPod on when it’s playing. You may also be able to give clues about how someone is feeling by reflecting upon the situation (“You looked really angry when I suggested going out last night”).

4. How Could Meta-Communication Do Wrong?

People often put their own thoughts and feelings into others’ mouths, sometimes resulting in misunderstandings or miscommunication. We might think, “He didn’t answer me back after I asked him what time he would pick me up tonight,” rather than “He must not care about my feelings.” Sometimes we may even think that someone is angry with us when he/she is actually quite fine. He or she might be in a hurry and not able to respond immediately if we ask them what’s wrong.

We might also assume that others are having the same thoughts about an issue as us when they might have totally different views on it. For example, if you’re thinking, “I hate his tie,” another person could be thinking, “His ties are really cool! I wish mine were like that”.

The things we imagine others are feeling can be influenced by our own emotions. You may get frustrated with someone for forgetting their wallet because you’ve done it before, so you assume they will get annoyed too. Also, if there are a lot of people involved in a conversation, we may not be able to pick up on subtle cues from everyone. If you have a friend who has always been enthusiastic about everything but she doesn’t seem so happy today, it might be because she’s tired rather than because something is wrong with your friendship.

5. How Is Meta Communication Used in Therapy?

In a therapy session, metacommunication involves talking about the process of communication. For example, if a person repeatedly fails to communicate, he or she can talk about how they talk and why. For example, if a person speaks with a loud voice and the other person doesn’t, the two of them should try explaining how they are speaking. If the message is misinterpreted, the sender can try a different way of saying it in a friendly tone.

Meta-communication can also be used to help a person communicate. For example, in a relationship, someone might tell a person to speak in a loud voice. That person can use irony to make the recipient understand that the message is not serious. The same principle applies when a person reveals personal information in a conversation. For example, if a person is annoyed by a partner’s overly loud voice, they can talk about how they should react instead of being upset by it. As a therapist, you are constantly evaluating the level of closeness between you and your patient. Every shift in closeness will impact your therapy. This is metacommunication. You have to be aware of the fact that your patient has a higher level of awareness than you do. By being observant, you can understand how to respond to these differences. The therapist and patient need to be able to share their feelings and understand one another.

Psychologists define metacommunication as the sum of all verbal and non-verbal communication between two people. For example, if someone rolls his or her eyes while greeting another, he or she will not be grateful to see the person. In a similar way, meta-communication can also take the form of irony and joking. When both people are conversing, it is important to keep in mind that a message can be misinterpreted.

6. How Does Meta-Communication Help a Relationship?

Meta communication helps if we explore what is going on in our relationships and understand it. For example, if someone misunderstands you or thinks that you don’t care about them, meta-communication can help to clear up any confusion so that the relationship can continue smoothly. It may also teach us new skills for communicating with people who are different from us. Being able to talk about how you feel with someone can help your relationship grow stronger because both of you will be more aware of each other’s thoughts and feelings. However, sometimes there are situations where one person does not want the conversation, despite the other person’s desire to have it. This creates a larger rift between two people than would otherwise exist without meta-communication because rather than simply disagreeing on the topic, one person is attempting to understand how the other sees things.

This can be positive when things go well, but it can also backfire. If two people are in disagreement about something that they both feel strongly about, meta-communication may end up in a less happy/neutral place because each of them wants to win. The conversation may become an argument rather than a healthy discussion between understanding parties. Also, there are some specific topics where metacommunication could cause conflict (like religion) because people might think you’re saying something insulting or unfair if you talk about what others believe in this way. Sometimes we need to agree not to communicate in certain ways for an event or situation (for example, by staying quiet at the dinner table so that everyone can eat). If we don’t, meta-communication could worsen the relationship.

Meta-communication is a great skill to have, but you need to be aware of other people’s boundaries and desires as well as your own. You should also think about what you’re going to say before putting it into words! Sometimes it might not even be appropriate for you to use meta-communication because other people will see this as an invasion of their privacy or as antagonistic. Can you imagine asking someone, “What are you thinking?” when they minded their own business? It would make them feel really uncomfortable and put pressure on them to reply quickly if they didn’t want to talk about it.

Meta communication helps us to understand our own emotions better and to express these in a way that is helpful to others. It might be easier for someone to ask directly for what they want rather than indirectly, but it’s important that people feel comfortable with either method of communication.

7. How Can Meta-Communication Help in Workplaces? 

Meta communication can help in workplaces because it makes relationships stronger. This is good for everyone involved since people are more likely to work well together when they care about each other’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions. It also saves time in the long run because you won’t need to guess what someone else wants or be left out of an important conversation. Meta communication can improve customer relationships too so that there are fewer conflicts with customers who have different ideas or needs from employees. For example, if your company changed its delivery policy, it would be better if both the service staff and the customers knew exactly why this was happening before any complaints were made. Employees could explain this decision themselves to their customers rather than having management do it, which might come across as defensive or unhelpful. If you’re working in a team, it can be helpful to share meta-communication skills with each other so that everyone is better at understanding how others feel and then explaining what they want. This can help you work together more effectively to achieve goals and save time by avoiding mistakes!


Meta communication is a way of communicating that helps us to understand our own emotions and the emotions of others. It involves understanding how people communicate, both verbally and non-verbally. This type of communication can be helpful in workplaces, with customers, and in relationships. We can improve our meta-communication skills by practicing reflective listening and being aware of other people’s boundaries. We should also think about what we want to say before speaking so that we can express ourselves effectively. Meta communication is a powerful tool that can help us to build stronger relationships and achieve our goals.

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