1.1. Application of the Four Distances Model

Parliamoci Chiaro: il modello delle quattro distanze per una comunicazione efficace e costruttiva

© Article translated by dott. ssa Eleonora Brusamento Spinelli, CIELS Advanced Degree in Strategic Communication (“Laurea Magistrale in Comunicazione Strategica”), extracted with the author’s permission from the book: Parliamoci Chiaro: il modello delle quattro distanze per una comunicazione efficace e costruttiva” (Let’s Speak Clearly: the four distances model for an effective and constructive communication) , written by Daniele Trevisani, published by Franco Angeli, Milan. www.studiotrevisani.it www.danieletrevisani.it www.comunicazioneaziendale.it

The Four Distances Model (4DM) can be useful:

  • for family communications;
  • for couple dynamics, between husband and wife, between life partners;
  • to improve helping relationships such as coaching, counseling, therapy, teaching, training;
  • in leadership and team direction;
  • to work on human relationships in challenging and confined environments such as work groups operating in extreme or hostile environments;
  • in communication for Workplace Safety;
  • for communication, communication that occurs between
  • people of different cultures, whether ethnic, religious, regional, and any other cultural factors;
  • to examine little-explored worlds of communication such as inter-species communication;
  • for human-machine communication and human-artificial intelligence (AI) communication;
  • to venture into territories that are unknown to human beeings, such as during long-term space missions and extended travel in confined environments;
  • to anticipate near futures, such as communication criticality occurring to human challenges, such as creating peace wherever there is conflict;
  • for highly concrete industrial collaboration projects between nations and between companies from different nations;
  • to perform real research and development, able to absorbe concepts and cultures also from very different disciplines, such as engineering, material sciences, anthropology, sociology, physics, economics, psychology, statistics, and many others, creating really effective working groups even if interdisciplinary and intercultural;
  • and in a not so distant dream… to establish communicative bases with still undiscovered cultures and civilizations, that maybe one day could manifest themselves, and with which every known form of communication could be useless or not working.

This is no more science fiction, since every day hundreds of habitable planets similar to Earth are discovered. A very significant percentage of these planets is located in the “habitable zone” or “Golden Lucky Zone” of the respective solar system, not too close to its sun (with the risk of excessive temperatures that make life impossible) or too far away (with the risk of temperatures so low as to make life impossible).

This fact provides forms of possible communication and contact on which the four distances can shed light. Even without looking for distant and remote worlds, our own Earth itself is a place where people – homo sapiens with homo sapiens – do not understand each other, they kill each other apparently for nothing, and conflicts break out in a devastating way, between ethnic groups, religious groups, family conflicts, couple conflicts, between groups of opposite supportes, between nations, and between gangs in the same city, therefore recognizing and fighting incommunicability really is a fundamental mission.

“Concord begets beauty and order in things. Conversely, from perpetual strife there must arise disorder accompanied by bestial cruelty.”

Pope Leo XIII

Concerning Business field, simply as a matter of fact, there will be – if incommunicability prevails – no sales, no business, no understanding between seller and customer, no realisation of anything at all. At listening level, none of the real, strong needs of customers and consumers is understood.

The possible useful messages and important information do not pass the communication barrier and customers remain dissatisfied, or less satisfied than they could be. Products – moreover – badly designed, or worse than they could be if only there was good communication with customers, especially in the ability to listen to them and involve them in research and development (R&D).

In a family background, paradoxically, the more time spent next to a person, the more it seems to come to the fatal conclusion not to really know that person next to a stranger. Obviously, the weaker ones will pay the price, while others will think they are “putting on an emotional armour”, but this way many positive development will become impossible for the future.

The 4 Distances model can examinate this process, to helps understand that distances are not “static” but rather dynamic. Distances change, evolve, sometimes over years, sometimes in fractions of a second (especially for mood and emotional states), sometimes they “involute”, worsening as time makes us discover new things about each other and stress puts our relationship to the test, forcing us to the ropes and bringing out parts of the personality that otherwise would not come out.

“The Progress, the evolution of a race is not measured in technological or scientific terms, it is measured by the ability to understand that there are others living in this world.”

Marco Trogi

People change, evolve, their identities, values, emotions, even their bodies, are subject to change, affecting the quality of communication.

In all these situations, all we need at first is a model, something to help us orient ourselves. Even if there is no perfect model, a model or theorem always fulfils an indispensable task: to start compaing about ‘something’ rather than nothing but a blank page.

Discussing about a model is therefore always productive.

Many anthropologists and psychologists have expressed concepts that “hide” models, they explained their variables but they have never produced a real operational, graphic, visual, comprehensible scheme. An operating scheme is much better when presented in a visual form – to provide us a quicker inspiration for the analysis of incommunicability.

Why schemes? Because managers and practitioners need operational models, their professional backgrounds have accustomed us to understand them, and a schema also offers us real “labels”, words, usable concepts, comprehensible language, and the same applies to people who operate as promoters of helping relationships (educators, counsellors, therapists).

The 4 Distances model has been developed for this purpose. It was first presented by me at a scientific conference in Miami during the 9th International and Intercultural Communication Conference[1]. Since that first presentation and now, the model has undergone considerable evolution and improvement, and continues to change as new areas of research, enrichments, clarifications and comparisons with other sciences are included.

This model is sufficiently mature to be disseminated to the public, and many years of application in the field of counselling and training of UN Blue Helmets, managers, coaches and counsellors, and Special Forces and leaders, have verified its practical usefulness. It is therefore useful evolving the communication of people and managers, and for anyone who finds that good communication and collaboration is a vital necessity.

“Through the evolutionary process, those who are able to engage in social cooperation of various sorts do better in survival and reproduction.”

Robert Nozick

_________________

[1] See Trevisani, 1992, in bibliography

© Article translated by dott. ssa Eleonora Brusamento Spinelli, CIELS Advanced Degree in Strategic Communication (“Laurea Magistrale in Comunicazione Strategica”), extracted with the author’s permission from the book: Parliamoci Chiaro: il modello delle quattro distanze per una comunicazione efficace e costruttiva” (Let’s Speak Clearly: the four distances model for an effective and constructive communication) , written by Daniele Trevisani, published by Franco Angeli, Milan. www.studiotrevisani.it www.danieletrevisani.it www.comunicazioneaziendale.it

Source:

-Dott. Trevisani D., Parliamoci Chiaro: il modello delle quattro distanze per una comunicazione efficace e costruttiva, Gribaudo, 2019

For further information see: