In negotiating persuasion “in the field,” we may find different attitudes towards the same proposal. Imagine making a presentation with persuasive intent to propose a training course to a firm. Entrepreneur A might be enthusiastic about a staff training project, while entrepreneur B might consider it a waste of time. The first step, then, is to understand how the item (the proposal) sits along the possible latitude (from unconditional acceptance to outright rejection, with all the possible nuances in between). Every negotiator can benefit from practicing both (1) the latitude survey, and (2) the next step, consisting of analyzing the underlying motivations that place an item (a specific proposal) along a particular point on the latitude (e.g., extreme rejection, unconditional acceptance, or acceptance with reservations, and other possibilities). Having acknowledged the position along the continuum, it is appropriate to understand the reason for that placement. Any persuasive activity will in fact have to confront the motives that determine that position.
Roles • Analyst: has the task of bringing out the picture • Interviewee: must contribute to the exploration that the analyst will attempt, in a spirit of openness Steps • The analyst must come up with a fairly long list of products, services, and buying ideas, and note how they rank along the continuum. • Second step: bring out the reasons for this placement, especially in reference to the most extreme positions. • Use the following survey sheet:
Acceptance Latitude Survey Sheet Place proposed products along the continuum, based on the respondent’s reactions to the product. Question: “would you buy a ……” (follows proposal of a product or service, even a strange or unusual one). Explore the motive underlying the evaluation and related motives. You would purchase a: ……
And the reaction was.Assign a score from -100 (extreme disgust) to + 100 (absolute unconditional adherence)
In-depth analysis of choices: use • probing (did I get that right? why, what motivation leads you to.?); • associative techniques (what do you associate with…?); • the belief/evaluation model: have the subject say, “I believe that ………..” (subject’s belief) and “I think this is ………” (subject’s evaluation of the belief); • For the most positive and most negative points: in-depth analysis of motivations.
Today’s topic is about status, which is difficult to achieve, but even more difficult to maintain. This feeling of uncertainty related to these difficulties in negotiation gives rise to status anxiety, which can negatively affect the outcome of a meeting.
Here are some definitions that Alain De Botton (2004) provides with respect to status anxiety.
– The position of a person in society; the word derives from the supine “statum” of the Latin verb “stare”.
– Strictly speaking, the term refers to the legal or professional position that a personhas within a group, for example to his marital status (married) or to his rank (lieutenant). In a broad sense, it indicates the value and importance that this person assumes in the eyes of others: and this is the meaning that interests us most.
– In the transition from one society to another, the categories that possess greater social prestige change … from 1776 until today (vague but indicative term…) status has been increasingly associated with economic success.
– The effects of a high social position are gratifying; we have money, freedom, space, time, comfort, and, last, but not least, the feeling of being loved and esteemed when others invite and flatter us, laugh at our jokes (even those without humor) and show us deference and consideration.
– For many peoplea high social position represents one of the most coveted assets, even if there are only a few that would be willing to openly confess it.
– The fear – sometimes so nagging as to compromise entire existential phases –of not corresponding to the models of success proposed by society and, consequently, of losing all dignity and respect; The suffering induced by the fear of occupying a very low rank in the social scale or of being downgraded.
– This anxiety is caused by various factors such as periods of economic recession, redundancy, promotions, retirement, conversations with colleagues in the same sector; but also, by successful people who attract the interest of the press or by friends who have had better luck than us. It is often associated with feelings of envy, even if it is usually not confessed, and can lead to unpleasant social consequences; therefore, the signs of this inner drama are scarcely evident and are generally limited to the thoughtful gaze, the stunted smile and the unwarranted silence with which we welcome news of other people’s successes.
– If the place we occupy in the social ladder makes us feel concerned, it means that the consideration we have of ourselves largely depends on the idea that others have of us. Unlike a few exceptional characters, such as Socrates or Jesus, we need to know that the world respects usto be able to accept ourselves.
– The fact that the status, already difficult to conquer, is even more difficult to maintain over the course of a lifetime is very unfortunate. If we exclude those societies in which status is established at birth – for example for reasons of noble descent –one’s status usually depends on whatone manages to achieve in life. Moreover, there are many possible causes of failure, such as the lack of self-knowledge,macroeconomic factors and others’ cruelty.
– Moreover, this failure originates humiliation, a devastating awareness of not being able to convince the world of our worth, which condemns us,on one hand, to consider with bitterness those who are successful, and, on the other hand, to be ashamed of ourselves.
– Status anxiety can generate suffering.
– The desire to reach a higher status can have, like all desires, its usefulness: it can lead us to value our talents, to improve ourselves, to avoid extravagant and harmful behaviours and to favour social aggregation based on a common system of values. But, like all desires, if exasperated, it can kill.
– Understanding thisanxious condition and talking about it can be the most effective therapeutic approach.
Therefore, we should not be surprised if in a negotiation both sides try to assert their status and suffer from status anxiety. However, we must ask ourselves which mechanisms are useful for negotiation, and which ones are destructive. We must ask ourselves – and know how to recognize – others’ mechanisms of climbing to status and conquering power in negotiation, and the defensive counter-moves. We must consciously avoid making status anxiety predominate and strive to seek a negotiating solution that is useful for both parties.
The main questions of intercultural negotiation are therefore:
Starting from my interlocutor’s culture point of view, what are the avoidable statements that can hit his/her status?
How can I re-balance the situation when my interlocutor puts himself in a superior position?
How can I produce a positive image of myself and my company, without giving the feeling of superiority, consequently unleashing resentments and vengeful mechanisms?
How does my interlocutor’s culture evaluate status; what confers status in that culture?
How much of the negotiation time should you dedicate to negotiate status and how much should you dedicate to evaluate the topics for discussion?
Besides the mutual acquaintance phase, when do status issues arise in the negotiation? While negotiating conditions? While fixing prices or logistics? in legal practices? Or in contract statements?
In this article I will examine 2 important topics of intercultural negotiation communication: the first concerns the personal image management, while the second one is related to the superiority-inferiority conflict.
In every negotiation comparing respective statuses becomes inevitable. However, statuses are considered intra-cultural and not cross-cultural elements. We cannot assume that a person belonging to an “other” culture recognizes a status that comes from an unknown system.
Let’s observe this real dialogue between two colleagues at a restaurant, the first is Italian and the second one is American.
US negotiator: “In America my family is in the upper-middle class, we have a thousand square meter apartment in New York, but my neighbours built a mezzanine, doubling the airspace, if business goes well next season I can enter the upper class, and build a mezzanine too. My children have two PlayStations each, and I’m giving them a good education: for each hour of study I multiply x 2 their possibility of using the PlayStation, so if they study an hour I let them use the PlayStation for 2 hours, if they study 15 minutes I let them use it for only half an hour, timed.”
Italian’s response: “But do you listen to your children or do you time them?” (unspoken thought: you can also have a mezzanine of a square kilometre, but for me you are always an asshole)
We are not interested here in discussing who is wrong and if someone is wrong, but it is clear that the American interlocutor is exposing a particular image of himself. He is expressing a “face” and he is indirectly exposing which are the status rules he believes in, and his convictions on the most appropriate pedagogical methods. For this person having a mezzanine and two PlayStations is an indicator of status. It is also clear that the Italian interlocutor does not accept these rules and that he measures personal value differently.
A more or less conscious management of one’s “social face” is part of every negotiation. However, on an intercultural level, sending out unconscious messages and producing damages during negotiations can be very easy.
Principle 20 – Managing one’s own status and the interlocutor’s status; “face” games and intercultural impressions management
The success of intercultural negotiation depends on:
the ability to create an adequate status perception within the interlocutor’s judgment system;
the ability to create positive impressions (identity management and impression management);
the ability to acquire status and “face” without resorting to undue attack mechanisms, that can damage others’ “faces” (“face” aggression or personal image reduction, absolute avoidance of top-down approaches);
Alain de Botton reports this passage which shows us how even at the highest diplomatic and negotiating levels one can be very ignorant of what transversal messages are being emitted and of the degree of damage that can be produced by knowingly or not knowingly placing oneself in a top-down position.
In July 1959, US Vice President Richard Nixon went to Moscow to inaugurate an exhibition dedicated to his country’s technological and material innovations. The main attraction was a life-size copy of the house of the average worker, with carpet, TV in the living room, two bathrooms, central heating and a kitchen equipped with a washing machine, a dryer and a refrigerator.
During various press services, the Soviet press, somewhat irritated, declared that no American worker could have lived in such a luxurious house – ironically named “Taj Mahal” by Soviets – and defined it a means of propaganda.
Khrushchev maintained a rather sceptical attitude when he accompanied Nixon to the exhibition. As he observed the kitchen of the house in question, the Soviet leader pointed to an electric juicer and said that no sane person would ever think of buying certain “stupid items”. “Anything that can help a woman doing her work is useful,” Nixon replied. “We do not consider women as workers, as you do in the capitalist system,” Khrushchev retorted angrily.
Later that evening, Nixon was invited to give a speech at the Soviet television and used the occasion to illustrate the benefits of the American way of life. Cunningly, he did not begin to speak of democracy and human rights, but of money and material progress. He explained that, thanks to entrepreneurship and industrial activity, in a few centuries Western countries had managed to overcome poverty and famine, which were widespread until the mid-eighteenth century and still present in many areas of the world. Americans owned fifty-six million televisions and one hundred and fifty-three million radios according to what Nixon reported to Soviet viewers, many of whom did not even have a private bathroom or a kettle for making tea. About thirty-one million Americans lived in their own home, and an average family was able to buy nine clothes and fourteen pairs of shoes a year. In the United States, you could buy a house by choosing from a thousand different architectural styles, and o certain houses were often larger than a television studio. At that point Khrushchev, sitting next to Nixon and increasingly irritated, clenched his fists and exclaimed “Net, Net! “, while apparently adding in an undertone ” Eb ’tvoju babusku” (Go fuck your grandmother).
What clearly emerges from this passage is the (perhaps) unwitting offense to poverty that Nixon transfers to Russian people, placing himself in a top-down position, superior position vs. lower position.
For too many times, negotiators do not realize that they are performing an “abuse of dominant position” (displaying excessive superiority that damages others) or practicing a “presumption of dominance” (thinking of oneself in superior terms).
Communication reveals self- conceptions and relationship conceptions even though the participants do not want to reveal them.
Let’s see another example and observe some passages of this email:
Two colleagues and I are close to retirement and after an intense activity as top managers in various multinationals we decided to create an external company. I ask you to be our consultant and to provide us with your valuable advices to help us build a successful company. Do your best to check if you can come to advise us in Turin. Anyway, send me a commercial offer because I must show it to my partners for approval. Please send me also your CV. I will present it to my two partners, so as to persuade them to approve your advice. This consultancy intervention must be done within January 2005.
Thank you in advance for your help.
This message intercultural problem is of psycholinguistic type and it concerns the use of the imperative and the enormous quantity of presuppositions present.
Let’s look at some implicit assumptions linked to this message:
some people believe that a commercial offer can be made without having analysed the problem and the necessary intervention times;
Others think that the recipient will send his CV to someone he/she does not know, without being informed on how and for what purposes this CV will be used (it takes only a few seconds to write a writing a reason on an email, but the real motives can be different);
There is also the assumption that the customer can dictate times and that it is the recipient, and not the writer, who must make the trip;
It is taken for granted that the recipient wants to work for the sender and that he approves intentions and projects.
The apparently courteous message reveals a culture that is not exactly courteous.
In the Italian culture being in the “buyer” position is a strength and working for years in a multinational company makes the buyer acquire a strongest attitude of strength and superiority.
The sender actually expresses an aggressive multinational culture, which is based on the belief that a multinational can “rule the world”, a way of being consequently absorbed by its managerial education. However, the Italian culture is not unique, and we cannot think that the prototype of the multinational’s dominance over a consultant, or of a buyer over a possible seller, is accepted by everyone.
The ALM method culture believes that there must be a certain degree of values commonality for a project to start.
We must always consider that our culture is not automatically the culture of others. The right strategy is therefore to avoid putting the counterpart in conditions of presumed inferiority or to assign automatic superiority.
In the following article I would like to conclude the topic of negotiation communication training, by listing, in a more detailed way, the interpersonal communicative abilities, explaining the importance of culture shock and self-awareness acquisition.
Code Switching: the negotiator must manage the change of communication codes (linguistic code and non-verbal code), in order to adapt to the interlocutor. Making your interlocutor understand you requires an active effort of adaptation, a willingness to change your repertoire and to get closer to other people. Whoever imposes a one-way adaptation effort on the interlocutor (one-way adaptation) and does not think about others understanding him/her, automatically creates barriers to communication.
Topic Shifting: the change of subject. The negotiator must understand which techniques need to be adopted to slip from unproductive conversations, to get away from dangerous or useless topics, to avoid touching critical points of other cultures, creating offense, resentment or stiffening. These skills – like other abilities – are useful in every communicative context, such as in a communication between friends, colleagues, companies, as well as in diplomatic communication.
Turn Taking: conversational turns management. There are certain cultures that accept others to interfere in their speech, and others in which the respect for speaking turns is essential. Turn taking includes conversational turns management skills, turn taking abilities, turn defence skills, turn transfer abilities, the capability of open and close conversational lines, etc. All these techniques need to be refined for both intra- and inter-cultural communication.
Self-monitoring: the ability to self-analyse, to understand how we are communicating (which style we are using), to recognize internal emotional states, one’s own tiredness, or frustration, or joy, expectation or disgust, knowing how to recognize those inner emotions that animate us during conversation or negotiation.
Others-monitoring: the ability to analyse and decode the inner emotional states of our interlocutors, to recognize his/her state of fatigue, energy, euphoria, dejection, etc., to know how to perceive the participants mutual influences, to grasp the power relations in the counterpart groups and to understand the degree of interest in our proposals and the right moment for closing.
Empathy: the ability to understand others’ points of view, from within their value systems and cultural contexts and to understand the value of their communicative moves based on the culture that generates them.
Linguistic Competence: the ability to use language, choice of words and repertoires, showing a deep knowledge of the language.
Paralinguistic Competence: the ability to use and strategically manage the non-verbal elements of speech, such as tones, pauses, silences, etc.
Kinesic Competence: the ability to communicate through body movements (body language). Movements management can be one of the strongest traps in intercultural communication, where some cultures – such as the Italian one – normally use broad body movements and gesticulations, while others – such as oriental cultures- use a greater demeanour, while retaining their body expressions.
Proxemic Competence: the ability to communicate through space and personal distances management. For example, Latin and Arab cultures accept and consider closer interpersonal distances normal, while northern European cultures don’t.
Socio-environmental Decoding Competence: the ability to interpret and understand “what is happening here” in relation to what is taking place during the conversation or the interaction. The negotiator must know how to recognize a conflict within the members of the counterpart group (intra-group conflict) and how to grasp the different positions, the trajectories of approach and relaxation, the different roles assumed and the moves of the interlocutors.
Both intra-cultural and intercultural negotiators need to be prepared for Reality Shock (or culture shock). Reality Shock can arise from the sudden realization that:
others don’t follow our rules;
others have different background values;
others don’t have the same goals as we do;
others do not behave like us, or even like we want them to behave;
some negotiators are in bad faith and dishonest: they do not seek a win-win approach, but only a personal advantage;
even with the greatest amount of goodwill, some negotiations escape comprehensibility and observable behaviours do not fit into rational logic.
The difference between an experienced negotiator and an apprentice negotiator is the degree of damage that reality shock does: low or zero for the expert, devastating for the apprentice.
The clash with reality can cause a shock, which can be followed by:
a positive process, reached thanks to the analysis of diversity, the acceptance of what can be accepted (without running into the extremes of radical unconditional acceptance), that leads the negotiator to improve his/her own cultural knowledge; or…
a negative process, caused by a fall of the emotional state, a rejection of reality that leads the negotiator to take refuge in his/her own cultural arena. The result, in this case, is often a withdrawal.
In order to activate a positive process of growth, and not a negative process of involution, it is necessary to work on our self-awareness (“Knowing how to Be”) of negotiation, through:
Cognitive Learning & Knowledge Acquisition: learning the contents that characterize the culture with which we want to interact.
Cognitive Restructuring: transforming our perception of the communicative act itself from an anxiogenic element to a source of positive energy. This practice requires the identification of negative self-statements (e.g.: “it will definitely go wrong”, “I am unsuitable”, “I will not succeed”, etc.), that must be replaced by positive self-statements, (e.g.: “let’s see if we have the right conditions for doing business”,” let’s go and compare our mutual positions without fear”, or even” let’s help the customer understand how we think”). The analysis of self-statements therefore consists in working on how we “enter” the negotiation, on what animates us.
Behavioural Learning & Communication Skills Acquisition: learning the skills necessary to “perform” or achieve a specific behavioural or communicative goal, by using dramaturgical and expressive techniques and relational dynamics.
Emotional Control Skills: developing some necessary emotions management skills, with which one can direct his/her own emotional energies in positive directions, recognize and remove negotiation stress, “recharge his/her batteries” and manage personal times, in order to take part in a negotiation in optimal psychophysical conditions.
In the following article I will go on explaining the basic features of the ALM business method, listing the most important communication training techniques and communication skills that every negotiator would acquire with it.
Communication trainings and simulations are essential to help us move from theory to practice. In the communication training of the ALM method:
We use an active training, paying particular attention to experiential assimilation and to active participation; moments of conceptual and theoretical reflection are useless if not concretely experienced.
the theory is connected to personal cognitive schemes: we aim to introduce new concepts and skills and to modify the underlying belief systems. A pure academic expression of concepts may not be enough to make people change;
There is a transition from cognitive schemes to behavioural and linguistic schemes: each of us must be ready to use concepts, beliefs and attitudes, by activating them without resorting to memory, thus avoiding long cognitive elaborations. Just as the footballer does not need to think about how the femur moves to shot a penalty kick, the negotiator must develop communicative automatisms connected to an inner communicative know-how.
The success of communication is therefore positively related to:
the available communicative repertoire: behavioural and communicative responses wideness and variety, stylistic repertoires wideness and variety;
the degree of “readiness” (easy accessibility) with which communication skills and relational moves can be used. This way, they become motor and linguistic schemes ready for activation and not mere mental traces to be reworked when necessary.
The final aim of this method is to obtain a high level of preparation on communication, which can help the negotiator to be ready to negotiate during most of the negotiation situations that may arise.
Communication training is divided into two areas:
transversal competence: the basic area (ground-level) where the main skills necessary in each negotiation are examined, and
situational competence, in which individual contexts necessities and specific interlocutors’ needs are analysed.
The success of intercultural communication depends on two types of communication skills:
The first is transversal to cultures and consists of general rules of effective communication that apply in any cultural context and it represents the basic communicative competence (ground-level expertise);
The second one is more specific and regards the cultural and situational target. In fact, there is an analysis of cultural traits and communicative strategies are based on the culture with which one must interact.
The main interpersonal communication skills covered (ground-level expertise) are:
code switching: ability to change codes, linguistic styles and linguistic registers;
topic shifting: ability to manage a change of topic and a conversation re-centering;
turn taking: ability to manage conversational turns;
self-monitoring: ability to self-analyse;
others-monitoring: ability to analyse and decode one’s interlocutor’s phases;
empathy: ability to understand others’ point of view and to see the world from within their value system;
verbal linguistic competence: ability to use language, choosing words and repertoires correctly;
paralinguistic competence: ability to use the non-verbal elements of speech, pauses, tones, accents, underlining, emphasis;
kinesics competence: ability to communicate through body movements (body language);
proxemic competence: ability to communicate through space management and personal distances;
socio-environmental competence: ability to interpret and understand “what is happening here”, in relation to the frames that come to life in the interaction.
In order to work on these skills, it is necessary to apply active training techniques. A special publication of the ALM method is dedicated to this topic.
Active training techniques mainly use actions, experimentations and behavioural researches, including elements such as:
breathing techniques and voice use;
techniques used for unlocking conversational repertoires;
stage space use and body language;
simulations and business games;
theatrical and negotiating improvisation;
analysis of the dramatic structure of the text, analysis of critical incidents and psychodramas;
To be able to negotiate effectively, knowing how to sell is not enough: it is necessary to develop transversal skills that favour the fluidity of communication and help us to avoid cultural barriers getting in our way. To do this we must undertake a path of deep personal training, without limiting ourselves to a superficial linguistic and cultural knowledge. So, let’s learn about one of the most effective training methods, the ALM method.
The ALM negotiation approach is characterized by:
action line flexibility, non-stereotyped negotiating strategy, creative strategy;
the negotiator’s strong emotional awareness;
the presence of strong negotiation preparation, communication training and simulation;
a holistic approach that pays attention to:
a general knowledge,
the know-how, but especially
the negotiator’s knowledge of his/her role as a negotiator.
This approach favours the negotiator’s/communicator’s growth, especially on the human level.
Rather than identifying a single negotiating strategy, the ALM method invites us to ask ourselves which are the available “constellations of strategies” – using Tinsley’s term – and which of them may be more profitable.
The ALM approach also invites us to always take into consideration the fact that misunderstandings may occur, leading us to conflicts, and to examine the inferred meaning of negotiation arguments, without automatically taking it for granted.
The ALM method basically proposes an open, transparent and direct line of communication. However, we must remember that this method of communication cannot be applied automatically, because it cannot be considered a standard even in Western societies, where clarity and immediacy are apparently promoted (as in American society), and even less so in Eastern societies, where excessively explicit statements can lead to offenses and conflicts.
For this reason, the intercultural negotiator must be aware of the “stress or shock “that comes from direct communication. He/she must also learn how to alleviate it, in case one decides to go for an open communication, such as for a constructive criticism or even for new communicative ways, that can be unusual for the other party.
In this case, we are referring to the psychological pact between negotiators, in which both interlocutors, even before entering the negotiation, try to establish their own methods of communication, while sharing some negotiating rules.
The success of intercultural negotiation therefore depends on:
the ability to establish common rules, that must be followed during negotiation;
the rules application consistency;
the ability to change the rules when they are not practicable or effective.
On an intercultural level, it is important to work on communication skills, and on the basic attitude of intercultural awareness.
Working on our skills means increasing our awareness of communication tools, by understanding how to use them effectively. Working on attitudes means eliminating cultural rigidities, recognizing stereotypes and one-way approaches, knowing how to maintain a flexible and open mind, which allows us to move with awareness during a negotiation and in international contexts.
Tracing a path that leads from incommunicability to constructive communication is a titanic undertaking, difficult to complete in a single life, a visionary goal, but also an engine of inspiration. But, however difficult, it deserves a commitment. In decades of scientific research and consultancy in the field, I have been able to experience the difficulty of people in communicating their thoughts, in understanding that of others, and the consequent difficulties of companies in cooperating.
At the same time, I have been able to see (like all of you) that, when communication works, the fruits immediately emerge. On the other hand, when communication is blocked or malfunctioning, conflict is created, interpersonal relationships suffer, common projects between people or between companies do not take off. We can trace with a good degree of precision the problem of incommunicability in cultural diversity – a “by-product” of the encounter / comparison between different cultures – an encounter that is as productive and full of opportunities for growth as it is open to risks and problems.
Culture – in the common sense – includes above all the artistic manifestations of a people, but in the social and managerial sciences it means much more. Culture, in a broader sense, above all means a way of perceiving the world, of categorizing reality, giving meaning to things, relationships, and life. Each of us is a unique individual in his personal culture, in the way of categorizing the world, assessing the importance of objects and people, setting up relationships. What is important and fundamental for me can be a detail for someone else, or for others something that doesn’t even deserve attention.
Each of us has assimilated the pressures and patterns of the groups to which they belong (ethnic, national, professional, family) into their own mental processes, and assimilates part of the models they come into contact with. Culture, according to Shore, can be considered a “collection of models”. In building a new relationship, in negotiating, what are the models I use? What models does my company use, often unconsciously? What are the models of others? The negotiation, even before a meeting between “positions”, of divergences / convergences on the details, is a meeting / clash between models.
With this volume I intend to offer a contribution that lays the foundations for both scientific and operational work, aimed at increasing the ability of people and companies to communicate with each other, aware of their differences, in order to grasp the best of the encounter between cultures. different without having to suffer the dark side of incommunicability and avoidable conflict.
Communicating aware of diversity – communicating in diversity and despite diversity – is a significant step forward. Having dealt with the basic themes in this volume, we will examine advanced techniques in future publications. Moreover, towers are not built without having first laid the foundations.
The repercussions of the “fundamental” tools shown here are potentially very strong, for those who work in companies (entrepreneurs, area managers and export managers), for the managers of projects and international relations, in the management of Human Resources (HR), but also for those who work in the social sector (therapists, counselors, educators), in an increasingly multicultural society.
The Four Distances Model for approaching Intercultural Negotiation
The model is based on the concept of relational distance: how people from different cultures can interact effectively or instead generate interactions based on conflict, incommunicability and misunderstandings, is strictly dependent from the feeling of “closeness” or “distance” that emerges in the interaction patterns between intercultural communicators. The 4 Distances Model, originally developed in the area of intercultural semiotics  defines the four main variables that can determine relational distance. Each variable has a subset of more specific hard-type (more tangible) and soft-type (more intangible) sub-variables:
D1 – Distance of the Self. Defined by D1A – Hard Distances: biological differences, chronemics-timing differences between communicators emissions/decoding/feedbacks; D1B – Intangible Distances: identity/role/archetype/personality differences;
D2 – Communication Codes Distances (Semiolinguistic Distance). Defined by D2A: communication content (hard variables); – D2B: codes, subcodes, signs, symbols, language communication styles (soft variables)
D3 – Ideological and value distance: differences in: D3A core values, core beliefs, ideologies, worldviews (hard variables) and D3B peripheral attitudes and beliefs (soft variables)
D4 – Referential distance (personal history); D4A – experience with external world objects, physical experiences (hard variables); D4B internal sensations world, emotional past and present (soft variables)
Each of these “Distances Factor” can be determined by means of observation, psychometric measurements, nonverbal content-analysis and verbal content-analysis. The model has proven to be useful in the analysis of intercultural communication critical incidents, incidents due to intercultural communications misunderstanding, as in the International Space Station case and in reducing misunderstanding in Intercultural Research & Development Engineering Teams.
^Trevisani, D. 1992. A Semiotic Models Approach to the Analysis of International/Intercultural Communication; published in “Proceedings of the International and Intercultural Communication Conference”, University of Miami, fl., USA, 19–21 May 1992
^Stene, Trine Marie; Trevisani, Daniele; Danielsen, Brit-Eli (Dec 16, 2015). “Preparing for the unexpected.”. European Space Agency (ESA) Moon 2020-2030 Conference Proceedings. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.4260.9529
^Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania, by Gudauskas, Renaldas; Jokubauskiene, Saulė, et. al. “Intelligent Decision Support System for Leadership Analysis”, in Procedia Engineering, Volume 122, 2015, Elsevier. DOI link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proeng.2015.10.022 – Pages 172-180
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