What are the four levels of communication

4-ear model simply explained - four sides of a message

The four sides of a message

The Four ears model so assumes that every utterance four messages and can also be understood in four ways or levels. It is not decisive whether the Channel wants to send these four messages and whether he is aware of it, because these four messages are part of every message anyway.

The four sides of a message we explain to you in the following:

1. The subject matter

The side of the Factual content indicates what to inform about. So here we are communicating the pure informationthat contains the message. At the factual level, we therefore initially provide information about Facts and Data. The recipient only has to decide whether the content is true or untrue and relevant or irrelevant.

2. The roll call

The side of the Appeal expresses what the sender wants the receiver to do. Hardly anything is said simply like that, almost all messages have the function of the recipient influence to take. The message is also used to send the To initiate the recipientto do, to let go, to think or to feel something. On the roll call level, both Wishes, appeals, advice as well as instructions are given.

3. The relationship

The side of the relationship contains information about what the sender thinks of the receiver and how he feels about him. This will be in the way of Formulations and speaking clearly. Also gesture and facial expressions support this side, such as frowning. The relationship level can also be clearly communicated or hidden. If the recipient hears a message on the relationship ear, he or she can feel valued, respected, criticized or despised, for example.

4. The self-revelation

The side of the Self-revelation indicates what I reveal about myself. Each message does not only contain information about the subject matter. The sender also reveals something about himself in the message, such as own feelings, values, views and needs. This self-disclosure can be intentional or unintentional and is either communicated clearly or is only contained covertly in the message.

Here we have summarized the four levels of communication for you again:

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The 4-ear model: 4 sides of a message

  1. Factual level: What I am informing about
  2. Appeal level: What I want you to do
  3. Relationship level: What I think of you or how we relate to each other
  4. Level of self-disclosure: What I reveal about myself

In the following figure we have graphically shown the four-ear model again. You can see that the sender's statement covers all four pages of the message and that these four pages also reach the recipient.

The four-ear model from Schulz von Thun

Four ears model: avoid misunderstandings

Since the message is only ever understood equally at the factual level by the sender and recipient, misunderstandings can arise. Because the recipient has to first read the four sides of the message perceive and interpret. For example, if the speaker prioritizes the relationship side, but the recipient the side of self-disclosure, it can happen that a message is misinterpreted.

Application of the four-ear model to an example

We'll apply the four-ear model to an example: Tim asks his mother to cook him his favorite meal again. While eating, he asks his mother: "Have you changed the recipe?"

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Four-ear model: example

  1. Subject matter: The food tastes different than usual.
  2. Appeal: From now on, always use the old or the new recipe.
  3. Relationship: Tim and his mother have a good relationship because he can express his opinion freely.
  4. Self-revelation: Tim is observant and has noticed a change in taste that he likes or dislikes. So he likes the food or he doesn't like the food.

You have already learned a lot about the four-ear model from Schulz von Thun. You can deepen your knowledge with our tasks. We wish you a lot of fun!