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Communication models: You should know these 4 models

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Hand on heart: how many communication models do you know? Unless you're studying communications, the answer is likely a slightly ashamed "None at all ..." But you are by no means alone. The way communication works is often simply taken for granted and given without further thought or questioning. It would go too far to call this a veritable educational gap, but there are good reasons to look more closely at some communication models. First and foremost: you improve your own and can avoid misunderstandings. We are therefore introducing you to some communication models that everyone should know because they are not only very well known, but also ensure a better understanding among each other ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

What are communication models?

Scientists have always been interested in how communication between people works, which factors play a role and how problems so often arise. However, despite numerous research results, it is hardly possible to come to a final conclusion and lay down a comprehensive and perfect description of the communication.

In order to make the complex topic accessible and understandable, there are communication models. The aim is to present the interrelationships, levels and processes of communication as simply and on a smaller scale as possible.

Communication is broken down into pillars that show how we communicate with others and which problems we have to overcome for successful communication. Over the years, various communication models have developed, some of which build on one another or also use different approaches to explain understanding.

The 4 most important communication models

Many cooks spoil the broth and many scientists develop many models of communication. We have put together a small best-of of four communication models that everyone should know - even if you do not deal with communication full-time. After all, everyone knows misunderstandings and who wouldn't want to improve their own communication? These communication models show how we communicate with each other and where we run into problems:

The iceberg model

The development of the iceberg model goes back to two big names: Sigmund Freud, from whom the basic idea of ​​the subconscious originates, and Paul Watzlawick, who transferred this concept to the field of communication. The iceberg serves as a picture that illustrates the different areas of communication.

Only a comparatively small proportion of the iceberg of just under 20 percent is visible, the rest is hidden under the water and remains invisible to the human eye at first glance. According to the iceberg model, the same applies to communication. The so-called factual level, such as numbers, facts and other data or rational information, make up the small part of communication - about 10 to 20 percent.

Larger and often even more important is the relationship level with up to 90 percent of the interpersonal communication. There are feelings, experiences, fears, but also human drives. While the factual level is communicated verbally, the relationship level is part of non-verbal communication, through body language, facial expressions and gestures.

The two levels of this communication model differ from one another, but are nonetheless related. Conflict situations often arise when the factual and relationship levels are not reconciled. This can already be seen in a simple example: If there are problems at the relationship level, for example due to negative feelings between the two sides of the communication, the factual level is also disturbed and statements are misunderstood.

The 4-ear model

The so-called 4-ear model (sometimes also referred to as the “four-sided model” or “message square”) comes from the German communication scientist Friedemann Schulz von Thun. This communication model distinguishes four different levels in each message:

  • Factual level
    The question here is: what exactly is being said? These are data, facts and information.
  • Self-revelation
    With every communication the speaker reveals something about himself. This often happens unconsciously, but allows an insight into the emotional world and personality of the sender of a message.
  • Relationship level
    The message also transmits information about the relationship between the sender and recipient of a message. Appreciation and respect, dislike, a close relationship or distance. The choice of words as well as body language and facial expressions show how the two sides of communication relate to each other.
  • appeal
    The sender always wants to achieve something with his statement and provoke a reaction from the recipient. In this way, one can be asked directly to do something or less obviously an action (or its omission) can be suggested.

According to this communication model, conflicts arise when the four sides of a message are interpreted or weighted differently by the sender and recipient. On the part of the recipient, one therefore speaks of the 4-ear model, whereby one of the levels is interpreted with each ear.

The transaction analysis

The American psychologist Eric Berne developed transaction analysis around 60 years ago. In his work he divided human behavior during communication into three states.

  • The parent self
  • The adult self
  • The child me

Berne describes communication behavior as parent-self, as can often be observed in upbringing. In particular, reprimand, correction, or caring for. The child ego shows itself through silly, playful, spontaneous or defiant behavior. In contrast to this, the adult self is characterized by respectful, objective, rationally thought-out and reflective communication.

Communication is not basically limited to an ego state. Everyone is able to switch back and forth between the different areas. Decisive for which ego state comes into play in communication are experiences, the history of the current communication, feelings and desires.

Which ego state is in the foreground in communication can reveal a lot about the relationship between the two parties. This communication model also shows that conflicts arise when different states collide. Parallel communication on one level leads to understanding of the other counterpart and often means successful communication.

But if, for example, an adult self meets a child self, different forms collide that can hardly be combined. In order to come to a common denominator, one of the two sides then has to question and change its own ego state.

The communication model can also improve your own communication. For example, if you are accused of putting yourself above others and patronizing them or bossing them around, you are too often in the parent-self. If you are not taken seriously, however, you should leave the child and try to communicate in the adult.

The transmitter receiver model

The two mathematicians Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver only wanted to improve telephone communication when it was still very prone to interference. After some revision, the result was a communication model that makes the interaction between people relatively simple and shows where problems can arise - the sender-receiver model.

The idea: Every communication consists of two sides, a sender who wants to pass on a message or information and a recipient who receives it. In order to transmit the message, it is encoded by the sender, which sounds complicated, but actually only means that it is expressed in language or body language.

The recipient, for his part, must understand and decipher this code, i.e. speak the same language or be able to correctly interpret and understand the body's signals. The communication becomes complete when the recipient sends feedback that he understood the message (or misunderstood it). According to this communication model, misunderstandings arise when a mistake is made on one of the two sides.

Paul Watzlawick, who also thought about this communication model, aptly formulated this possibility: “Thought is not said, said is not heard, heard is not understood, understood is not wanted, wanted is not able, skillful and wanted is not done and done is not retained. "

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