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

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[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:

1. Speak clearly and use positive communication. The 4 Distances Model

Articolo tradotto dal libro “Parliamoci chiaro”, estratto e pubblicato con il permesso dell’autore Prof. Daniele Trevisani, www.danieletrevisani.it www.comunicazioneaziendale.it – Articolo redatto a cura di: dott.ssa Laura Pilli, CIELS Padova

… if you do not accept a life of mediocricity, a mediocre communication, among empty, dull lives, masks and shadows, you will find your way… because you will seek it every day as a flower seeks the light.

Daniele Trevisani

What is a positive conversation? It is a form of meeting from which we come out happy. And not so much for what we brought home, but for how we felt, for what we managed to build, for that positive future of which that piece of conversation became a piece, and for the pleasure that piece of life itself gave us.

On the other hand, a negative conversation is full of misunderstandings, bad emotional states, greyness. It is ‘communicative entropy’ (confusion about the meanings and purposes of communication), and it produces a drain on our most precious strengths and resources: personal energies, emotions, time.

Today’s words are often ‘sick’, they have lost the deep and strong meaning they used to have. Abused and forced, they went off.

The word ‘Love’ has many meanings; we say we love ice cream, a pair of jeans or a particular movie. We have abused that word and now we have to heal it: words can get sick and can lose their original meaning; we have to detoxify them and bring them back to health.

Thich Nhat Hanh[1]

An healthy, well-functioning communication succeeds in getting messages across with words, gestures, symbols, and succeeds in getting the original meaning across ‘cleanly’, without misunderstanding. A sick communication, on the other hand, causes the original message to arrive ‘distorted’, amputated, modified, even opposed to the sender’s intentions. From here to the arrival of misunderstanding, conflict, between people, groups and even nations, it is a short step.

We need a model to guide us through the meanders of what goes on in a conversation, which is difficult but not impossible, and the Four Distances Model is designed to do that.

Decide to ‘take charge’ of your own communication skills, and work on them, is a courageous, noble act, worthy of people with a strong moral character.

“When a man decides to do something, he must go all the way but he must also take responsibility for what he does. Whatever he does, he must first know why he does it, and then he must go ahead with his actions without doubt or remorse. In a world where death is chasing us, there is no time for regrets or doubts. There is only time for decisions.”

Carlos Castaneda, “Teachings of Don Juan”

“To build” something positive with communication is not obvious, very often one word, one look, is enough to build, and another is enough to destroy or damage.

Communication is an act that can generate a wonderful, positive, happy experience of great sharing beyond all forms of separation and barriers. But it is an achievement.

Those who ‘pretend’ that differences between people do not exist or do not matter are hiding the reality of the situation. Much better to consider this reality and treat it for what it is, with courage.

A fundamental point to be clarified immediately is that communication is not a message “thrown into space” that will never be answered, but a form of continuous interaction, a real conversation in which senders and receivers are always active. Hundreds and thousands of micro-communications take place between them, each of which may be clear or may lead to confusion, misunderstandings or negative emotional states.

To start a positive communication, therefore, we have to take care of the individual communication ‘frames’, just as someone takes care of a delicate flower in a greenhouse, flower after flower, plant after plant.

Each of us has his or her own interests, needs, requirements, and these ooze and seep into our every interaction. The human communication is a tool, and sometimes it is the only tool we have, to get the resources for our survival, or to get what we want in life, to achieve goals, and to rejoice for the results that communication can bring us.

Take away a man’s ability to communicate, and he will become a stone.

But as we all know, it is not enough to communicate “just to do”, it is not enough to ask in order to receive. Those who think that everything will come automatically, that everyone will always say yes and agree, perhaps have in mind a communication model in which a master commands and the slaves silently execute. A condition of communicative submission that has a little room in our hearts.

In the real life, the possibility of enslavement is fortunately increasingly remote, though not eradicated. The probability that it is necessary to be clear, or persuasive, or to communicate clearly and assertively, is much more concrete and real, especially in business and family environments.

Also because slavery today takes subtle and new forms, such as living in emotionally toxic climates without being able to get out of them, or psychological dependence on people we would like to do without, and the inability to be clear and convincing about our rights, and in the projects we work on. For this reason, it is good to take advantage of the methods we will learn about here.

Communication only ever makes sense when it is done to increase happiness, satisfaction, pleasure, positivity, and helps us to identify them, and not to fuel division, conflict, disease.

It is a first big step towards self-knowledge to be able to recognise what makes you happy.
(Lucille Ball)

In communication, the possibility of a misunderstanding, disagreement, communication difficulty or problem is always real and concrete. On the contrary, we are certain that communications can give rise to misunderstandings and conflicts, even serious ones, precisely because they take place in conditions of cultural differences, even slight ones, or in any case of diversity between people, and this, if attention and sensitivity are not paid, will happen.

Talking clearly is therefore also an invitation to confront the psychological and communicative distances that can exist between us and other people, in order to find that ‘effective relational distance’ in which we can communicate well, with respect for ourselves and others. The Four Distances Model helps us precisely to understand what the four major “traps” can be, the types of relational distance we can encounter in communication, but also, and consequently, the drivers of positive communication and strategies to communicate better.

Every time we interact with a person who is even slightly different from us, a few years older than us, a different geographical origin, a different school attended, a different education, a different emotional state, we are in the presence of a certain degree of diversity and this imposes on us the need to adjust our communication. If there are strong ethnic, religious and cultural differences in the underlying ideologies, it becomes even more difficult.

The differences between communicators do not end there. There can be strong differences in the emotional states that I experience and the other person experiences, different personality types that interact with each other and sometimes embrace and make sparks. While communicating, we have diversities in mood, in emotions, in how we feel even physically, diversities and barriers that interact with each other, complicating everything.

Rather than a ‘simple communication’, with even a moderate amount of diversity between people, we should speak and think in terms of ‘strategic communication’.

In a communication that becomes strategic, the concept of “Information Operations” or “Info-Ops” makes its way in, a concept of military derivation, but which gives a good picture of the situation: information and communications, in conditions of diversity, have an aim, they work better if they are planned, if they are architected, and when there is a certain attitude of attention, sensitivity and planning, at least to how to make sure that the message can be accepted by the cultural and ideological filters of those who receive it, and not blocked immediately.

Strategic communication requires models. Models that help to analyse communication, models for constructing messages, models for refined listening and understanding.

Acknowledging that diversities exist and require courage. To want, despite this diversity, to try to build something together is an act of courage.

Courage cannot be counterfeited; it is a virtue that escapes hypocrisy.
(Honoré de Balzac)

To deny diversity between people, and cultural differences on the basis of good ideologies, is instead a great act of intellectual falsehood.

Behind communication there is a huge amount of misunderstanding, miscommunication and misinterpretation, both in the issuing and in the listening phase.

There is not yet a ‘model of incommunicability’ that examines and clarifies this rising tide of unintentional and intentional leaks, communication errors and gaffes, and helps to recognise them, and a step in this direction is the purpose of this volume.

It is an even more urgent purpose because this globalised world puts us face to face with the challenge of a constantly globalised communication, between people thousands of kilometres apart, but also people who are physically close, but culturally and emotionally light years apart.

If we do not accept this reality as a fact, we will never include in our analyses the real elusive factor: the latent diversity between people, the cultural differences and distances between people, and how these factors impact on communication, turning it into – on the one hand – a smooth and pleasant communication, producing agreement and understanding – on the opposite side an unpleasant, conflictual, difficult to digest communication, and its outcomes: disagreement, misunderstanding, incommunicability, mutual hatred and conflict.

_________________

Dr. Daniele Trevisani

– Master of Arts in Mass Communication, University of Florida (USA)

– Fulbright Scholar, Intercultural Communication, American University of Washington, DC (USA)

– Certified Advanced Coach by STEP™

– Certified Counselor by STEP™

– Certified Coaching Supervisor by STEP™

– Certified Counseling Supervisor by STEP™

– Master Trainer HPM™ Human Potential Method

– Master Trainer ALM™ Business Coaching Method

– Master Trainer 4DM™ Intercultural Communication Method


[1] Thich Nhat Hanh (2014). Sono qui per te. Per una relazione d’amore duratura e consapevole. Terra Nuova Edizioni, p. 76

Riepilogo didattico Lezione 1 Prof Daniele Trevisani

www.studiotrevisani.it

Presso Campus Ciels Padova, Laurea Magistrale in Comunicazione Strategica LM-94 Corso di Negoziazione, vedi Trevisani Daniele – Campus Ciels

Parole chiave della lezione

  • Mission negoziale
  • Dissonanza comunicativa
  • Comunicazione empatica
  • Empowerment
  • Riformulazione
  • Connessione emozionale
  • Mossa comunicazionale
  • Problem setting
  • Problem solving
  • Patto psicologico
  • Patto formale
  • Common ground
  • Modelli di comunicazione
  • 4 Distances Model
  • Communication breakdown
  • Conoscenza di sé
  • Capitale psicologico

Concetti fondamentali trattati

  1. Passaggio da una comunicazione autocentrata, cioè riferita a noi stessi e a ciò che serve a noi, a una comunicazione empatica, riferita invece alla persona con cui si sta negoziando, per ottenere la propria “missionnegoziale.
  2. La mossa comunicazionale come strumento per ottenere una buona negoziazione. Un esempio di mossa comunicazionale è la tecnica di riformulazione dei concetti: permette di porre maggiormente l’attenzione sulle necessità della persona con cui stiamo negoziando.
  3. Per ottenere una buona negoziazione è necessario stabilire prima un patto psicologico di accettazione reciproca delle parti, per poter poi stabilire il patto formale di vera e propria negoziazione.
  4. Il concetto di “problem setting“, tramite il quale si fissa un problema e senza il quale non è possibile arrivare a un efficace “problem solving“, ovvero sia la risoluzione del problema.
  5. Ricorrere a dei modelli di comunicazione nella negoziazione, come il modello delle quattro distanze. Il modello individua quattro tipi di distanze comunicazionali non fisiche: distanza del self (o di ruolo), di codice, ideologica (o valoriale) e referenziale (l’esperienza sia per quanto riguarda il mondo esterno che interno).
  6. Il “communication breakdown” è la rottura comunicazionale che si crea tra le parti, su diversi livelli: a livello di tema conversazionale, di codice, valoriale, esperienziale. È necessario invece ricercare un “common ground“, vale a dire dei valori condivisi da entrambe le parti che siano in grado di unirle e non dividerle.
  7. Altri modelli di comunicazione individuati nell’ambito della negoziazione sono stati: PSYCAP (modello del Capitale Psicologico); ALM (Action Line Management); HPM (Human Potential Modelling); 4LE (Empatia a 4 Variabili); Scala di Fisher (o scala degli stati di Coscienza); Ruota di Plutchik (o dell’intelligenza emotiva);

Sintesi del mio apprendimento:

Ho capito che la negoziazione non si basa sul concetto di soddisfare le nostre esigenze, ma di comprendere quali esigenze della parte con cui negoziamo possiamo soddisfare al fine di ottenere la nostra “missionnegoziale.

Ho imparato a riconoscere l’importanza e il significato delle microespressioni facciali durante una negoziazione, in quanto possono esprimere una dissonanza comunicativa quando queste non sono compatibili con le espressioni verbali.

Ho riflettuto sulle mie capacità di negoziazione e su come poterle migliorare. In particolare sul concetto di “empowerment“, cioè il nostro potere personale di agire, di impegnarsi e sul concetto di conoscenza di essenziale per poter portare avanti una negoziazione.

Fonti:

-Dott. Trevisani D., Negoziazione InterculturaleComunicazione oltre le barriere culturali. Dalle relazioni interne sino alle trattative internazionali, Franco Angeli Edizioni, 2016.

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

-Dott. Trevisani D., Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace, Franco Angeli Edizioni, 2019

-Dott. ssa Brusamento Spinelli E., Appunti di Negoziazione degli ostaggi, lezione 1 di Prof. Trevisani D. 25/02/2021

Empathy and Active Listening (part 2)

© Article translated 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) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Communication Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian, whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Communication Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the website www.danieletrevisani.com 

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Let’s continue explaining the advantages deriving from empathy and active listening, basic principles of the ALM business method.

Silence

Quality listening requires silence.

When you listen, in silence, even the subtlest rustle acquires meaning. By combining any sensory information, we are able to perceive more in a quiet situation, rather than in a chaotic one. If we can’t grasp information, we will never be able to interpret it, to give it meaning, to evaluate it and to understand its meanings.

Active listening and empathy should not be confused with accepting another people’s content.

The rules of active listening are methods that allow thoughts to flow as freely as possible. The so-called “unconditional acceptance” is valid in a psychotherapeutic context, but not necessarily in everyday communication.

Inner Dialogue and Authenticity

We often talk to a very close person: ourselves.

A very important topic linked to communication topic and personal growth concerns the concept of “Basic Rogersian Distance” or Self-incongruity.

With this term we intend to summarize a critical aspect presented by Carl Rogers in his work Client-Centred Therapy, dedicated to the process of individual growth and self-development.

According to Rogers, one of the most conditioning variables in personal growth is the presence of incongruity, whose critical nodes are:

  • believing things concerning us that are not true, and
  • not realizing how we really are.

The synthesis of Rogersian thought highlights these mechanisms:

  • people are often not aware of what they are doing. A manager may think to have managed a deal well, without realising that the other party si laughing just outside the door;
  • people are often unaware of their mistakes. They blame the negative results on the forces of fate and avoid conducting an introspection that could leads them to discover that they have defects and that they must improve. This prevents them from grasping their goals and their need for personal growth;
  • it is difficult to become aware of one’s real behaviours and errors, until one seeks and accepts as many honest feedbacks as possible, while facing an authentic interlocutor who can help the person open his/her eyes by highlighting inconsistencies.

For a self-perception dystonia to emerge and not degenerate further (and in some cases it really degenerates into a deep crisis), it is necessary that the person must be able to benefit from an extremely rare yet indispensable condition: having internal or external consultants, trainers, coaches or counsellors, who know how to observe a hidden reality and are willing to deal with extreme authenticity without distortions and fears.

The consultant is an increasingly important figure. As Rogers himself observes, authenticity is the basis of the effectiveness of any helping relationship. In the ALM method authenticity is essential as an engine for development, and its benefits far outweigh its costs.

Authentic relationships are extremely rare, but we can and must make every effort to actively build them, research them and create the conditions for them to occur, both in everyday life and in business life. This means speaking clearly.

In a consulting approach, authenticity is necessary to let problems of image emerge. Authenticity is part of any relationship: there is an authenticity towards us (we must stop lying to ourselves) and an authenticity towards others (we must stop hiding behind fake social masks).

To sum up, personal efficiency and effectiveness are positively correlated to:

  1. the knowledge and awareness of one’s own identity, culture and communicative behaviour;
  2. the time and energy devoted to the active construction of an ideal image of oneself and of one’s company and the willingness and concreteness in improving oneself;
  3. one’s self-knowledge, favoured by an authentic consultancy and counselling relationship capable of bringing out distortions and inconsistencies between the person’s real situation, and his/her false opinions, beliefs and self-deceptions.

The negative factors that can affect corporate and personal efficiency and effectiveness are:

  1. poor awareness of oneself;
  2. lack of analysis and active construction of an aspirational identity (ideal self, ideal image);
  3. lack of awareness of one’s own gaps;
  4. persistence of self-deceptions that have not emerged and are not treated as such;
  5. inability or unwillingness to implement a personal growth plan, hoping that “things will work out, anyway”. If you don’t do something serious and specific, they will never be fixed.
"Let's Speak Clearly" by Daniele Trevisani

© Article translated 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) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Communication Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian, whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Communication Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the website www.danieletrevisani.com 

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For further information see: