The Four-Stage Model Of Professional Development – Michael Grinder & Associates

The Four-Stage Model of Professional Development

It has been a privilege to train and mentor thousands of people. Michael Grinder’s “Model of Professional Development” is a four-stage template (or model) to “know where someone is” in their professional development and where to focus next.

The stages are:

  1. Content
  2. Process
  3. Perception
  4. Receptivity

Everyone starts with Content. This is the level where one learns the information, data, policy, etc.

Often, our college classes provide this level of professional development. The Content level is best described as the “verbal” level of communication— otherwise known as “what we say.” Perception and Receptivity are the “art of communication.”

While Content is the “what” of communication, the Process level focuses on “how” to deliver the “what.” The Process level is the non-verbal aspect of communication.

Process (“non-verbals”) is a collection of techniques and strategies with three major categories:

  • What we do with our eyes (visual),
  • What do we do with our voice (auditory), and
  • How do we hold our body (kinesthetic)?

These categories can be further described as:

  • Visual: whether we make eye contact or not
  • Auditory: whether our voice sounds like we are sending or seeking information.
  • Kinesthetic: whether we stand close or far from a person; whether we gesture or not.

Perception is the “timing” of when to use these techniques and strategies.

The ultimate level of communication is “Receptivity.” This is the “when” of whether the listener wants to communicate with us. Literally, the recipient gives the speaker permission to communicate.

It is at this level of professional development that the communicator decides “if” to share or wait until another time to share information.

The four stages can be displayed as a stairstep moving up in complexity.

The first two “lower” levels, Content and Process, are referred to as the “science of communication.”

When someone is at these levels of professional development, their goal is to be consistent in their expectations, policies, and behaviors. People find someone on this level as reliable and predictable.

The two stages of Content and Process often result in the person
using the words “always” and “never”
as in “I always…” or “I never…”

Perception and Receptivity are the “art of communication”. On this level, the artisan switches from being consistent on a behavioral level to being consistent on a principle level.

Instead of “I always do this…”
the person operates from
“I always consider these factors…”

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