Four-ear model

The four-ear model, also a four-page model, news square or communication square, is a communication model of Friedemann Schulz von Thun. The communication scientist Schulz von Thun assumes that the sending and receiving of a message always takes place in four ways. Whoever speaks, communicates the following levels: content, relationship, self-disclosure and appeal. The speaker thus speaks with four beaks. The receiver can also hear the content on these four levels. Thus he hears with four ears.

The four-ear model therefore assumes that every person who communicates is effective in different ways. Accordingly, each utterance contains four messages or can be understood in four different ways. It is completely irrelevant whether these levels are wanted by the sender or not, because they are a component of each message. From this realization, Schulz von Thun created the communication square, assigning different colors to the individual pages.

Things I’ll tell you (blue).
Self-disclosure: What I reveal about myself (green).
Relationship: How I stand by you, what I think of you (yellow).
Appeal: What I want from you (red).
Schulz von Thun described this four levels as a square in one of his four pages. Because the station is expressed on these four levels (speaks with four beaks) and the receiver can hear the utterance in four different ways (hears with four ears), it is clear that communication involves misunderstandings.

On the matter level, we communicate the pure information that contains the message. It is about facts, data, thus the content of the utterance. The recipient must decide at this level whether the content is true / untrue as well as relevant / irrelevant and whether this contains sufficient / insufficient information. The task of the broadcaster is to formulate its own concerns clearly and clearly in order to prevent possible misunderstandings between the two sides.

In addition, everyone who communicates, also surrenders something about itself, which is described in the communication model as self-disclosure or self-disclosure. As a result, each utterance contains a part that points to the sentiments, values, views, and needs of the sender. This self-disclosure can be explicitly (clearly) communicated via the I-message or implicitly, that is, not explicitly said.

The relationship level in the four-ear model shows how the transmitter is standing to the receiver and, consequently, what is held by it. This relationship is talked about the way and the concrete formulation is communicated, but also about mimic, gesture and the tone. The relationship level can also be implicit or explicit. When a recipient hears a message on the relationship ear, he can be valued, humiliated, respected, disregarded, respected, or rejected.

Whoever communicates, wants something. This point is taken into account at the appeal level. It stands for what the sender wants from the receiver and what he wants to achieve. On the appeal side, wishes, appeals, advice or instructions can be communicated that appear either open or obscured. If the recipient hears a message with his apprentice, he asks himself: What should I do now?

Note: Since only the level of the receiver and sender is identical in each case, there can be a lot of misunderstandings. Misunderstandings arise mainly when sender and receiver weight the four sides, which prescribes the four-ear model, differently or the different sides are differently occupied by the participants.
The four-ear model, for example
In order to illustrate what has been said, we would like to illustrate the four-ear model by means of the example given by Schulz von Thun in his work. For this we have to imagine the following situation and have the communication model in mind.

Imagine a man and a woman sitting in a car. The woman drives the car. This stops before a traffic light. After an indefinite waiting period, the traffic light turns green. Now the man says to the woman: “It is green!”, Whereupon the woman answers: “Do I drive or drive?”.

For the example, assume that the sender and receiver have the same content on the four sides of the message. The man, that is, the speaker, reveals, in his statement, the pages of the content, relation, self-disclosure, and appeal. The woman who hears this utterance hears this with her four ears (ear-ear, relationship ear, self-opening ear, appeal ear).

Situation: The traffic light is green.
Self-disclosure: I’m in a hurry.
Relationship: I am superior to you.
Appeal: Get going now!
The man communicates these four pages when he points out to the woman that the traffic light is now green. If the woman asks him whether she or she is driving, she might have heard the statement on the relationship ear and thus feel depressed. It is possible, however, that the man wanted to refer to the appeal side and the weight in the statement did not put on the relationship side.

Of course, conflicts can arise from this exemplary situation. The two had misunderstood, the man wanted from the woman that she is now driving, the woman heard the message, however, primarily with the relationship ear and feels himself tired of the man as well as degraded. Ultimately, the conflict arises from this. Let us look at three other, but uncommented, examples.

Misunderstandings in the four-ear model
As described, the four levels of a message may lead to various misunderstandings between the receiver and the transmitter. This is particularly the case when an utterance is not clear and unambiguous. The following is an example of the misunderstood communication.

Let us imagine a man sitting with his wife eating. The woman cooked K√∂nigsberger Klopse and in the sauce swim numerous capers, which are typical for this dish. The caper is small and green and has been spreading for centuries as a spicy kitchen spice. The man sees the capers and asks: “What is the green in the sauce?”. He thus means on the different levels:

There is something green.
Self-disclosure: I do not know what it is.
Relationship: You’ll know.
Call: Tell me what it is!
The man sometimes communicates these things when he communicates this question at the table with four beaks (see diagram above). His wife can now hear the question in four different ways, that is, with four ears. This could look something like this:

There is something green.
Self-disclosure: I do not like it.
Relationship: You’re a lousy cook!
Appeal: Let’s go away the next time!
These four pages of the message can be superimposed. For example, the appeal level and content can be largely the same if the sentence is a direct request. In the example above, the man says the same thing on the scene as the woman understands on the scene: there is a green thing in the sauce. However, the other levels are basically very different.

The woman replies to her husband that he should eat somewhere else if the dish does not taste him. In this example, the misunderstanding arises not only because of the different weighting of these levels, but by quite different assumptions. The appeal side, which ultimately communicates what the man wants from his wife, is misunderstood by her. This creates the conflict.

Short overview: The most important thing about the four-ear model at a glance
The psychologist Friedemann Schulz von Thun developed the four-ear model, which he presented in his work, Talking Together. Schulz von Thun points out that each message is communicated on four levels and is heard and interpreted on four levels.
The levels he makes are content, relationship, self-disclosure, and appeal. To make this clear, it indicates that the transmitter is talking with four beaks and the receiver is listening with four ears. The levels communicate different content.
All statements contain whether or not the speaker wants to: a factual information (which is spoken about), a self – knowledge (the person who speaks of himself to recognize), a reference (as the speaker speaks to the addressee); Addressees).
Misunderstandings in the communication of sender and recipient can arise on the one hand, if both weight the levels differently or fill them with different information. If, for example, a sender wishes to make an appeal and hears the receiver on his relationship ear that he is incapable, a conflict can arise.

Tip: To avoid conflicts and misunderstandings, it can be helpful to formulate statements very clearly. Furthermore, the four-ear model can help to question your own communication. If, for example, a dispute arises from a statement, it is possible to check at which point the communication between the sender and receiver was disturbed.

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