David Kantor's

Four player model

The foundation of structural dynamics can be found in David Kantor's Four Player Model. The Kantor Institute is where you can get more information.

Once upon a time, Kantor worked with families as a therapist. Working with families, he noticed recurrent patterns of language, behaviour, and communication that contributed to conflict.

Business and other organisations followed the same patterns, he realised. Kantor, after spending years researching and collaborating with other experts like Senge, Schein, and Argyris, became a leading expert in group dynamics and created the Structural Dynamics Model (also known as The Four Player Model) to analyse, evaluate, and alter these dynamics.

As a subfield of systems dynamics, structural dynamics focuses on the success (or failure) of interpersonal communication. Kantor argues that the first step toward being able to change the pattern of your own conversational behaviour and the direction of the conversation is becoming aware of the'structural dynamics,' or the unseen signals in a conversation. He maintains that the way we talk to one another can be planned, and that this planning can help steer conversations toward greater success or failure.

Kantor explains how people's actions vary depending on the topic, tone, and setting of the conversation.

Conversations consist of speech acts like talking, making claims, and asking questions.

There are three types of communication, totaling 36 distinct speech acts that can be sequenced and manipulated to influence the flow of a conversation and the attitudes and behaviours of those present.

Observing the Rules

Every behaviour is founded on a unique ideal of how a discussion should go. These are the protocols, or operating system, that everything follows.

Conversation is open and unrestricted up until the point of action, at which point the group as a whole decides on a course of action. Such conversational systems use both positive and negative feedback, but when they break down, a leader must step in to restore order.

This paradigm is exclusive because it focuses on rank and authority. Here, conversations are governed by who is seen as the most senior participant. They need criticism or counterpoint to maintain equilibrium.

Confusing: the premise of this paradigm is that power can be appropriated by anyone who wants it. This makes room for development and exploration. They value comments and praise, and push for novelty.

The Field of Communication (The language people speak)

Moods and drives are the focus of this area. To accomplish their goals, people consciously and unconsciously employ a variety of linguistic styles. When one person is speaking from one domain and another is speaking from a different domain, it's easy for misunderstandings and misinterpretations to arise.

Words have power when used to influence others.

That is, they are looking for proof and steps that can be taken to help them reach their goal.

Affect refers to the use of emotional language to elicit a response from the listener and foster a sense of closeness and rapport with the speaker.

Taking Actions as a Topic (Action Propensities)

Various actions are added to the conversation by means of each speech act. (This is what Kantor calls "Action Propensities"). Learning and practising these can help you have better conversations. And it's a tool for spotting and breaking the cyclical patterns of thought and speech that keep us from moving forward in our interactions with one another and the world.

Idea generators, keep the conversation and the ideas flowing.

The role of critics is to raise questions about novel ideas, which can then inspire further investigation and action.

Those who follow are helpful members of a group because they have a knack for expanding on others' ideas and lending their voices to ongoing discussions.

The role of bystanders is often underestimated, but they can be a valuable source of insight and feedback for a group's efforts.

There are three distinct behaviours that can result from each of these four communication actions: inaction, passively following, and active participation.

(Many different 4-player tests, including apps, can be found on the internet.)

Put on Your Superhero Suit

Last but not least, in Kantor's view, there is the heroic mode. This mode of expression develops during times of emergency. The crisis, however, serves as a means of expression. According to Kantor, this phenomenon is often the result of people revealing their "shadow sides," or their true, underlying motivations for communicating, which are often rooted in their past experiences and can include things like fear and greed.

Interaction and communication patterns alter as people react defensively to a crisis. When faced with a crisis, people react gradually at first, but as the danger increases, they act more radically. If given free rein, they will eventually resort to extreme behaviour that will only make matters worse and foster an atmosphere of blame.

According to Kantor, the true art of communication is in seeing communication and crisis for what they are, and in transcending not only one's own shadows but also the shadow behaviour of those around one.


However, it's not complicated.

This is about taking accountability for one's actions and admitting when one is wrong. As a result, this is where power over the night lies.

Last but not least

It is essential to effective communication and conversation management to have a firm grasp on how people communicate, including self-communication.