House Of Communication – Michael Grinder & Associates

House of Communication

This clip represents an overview of the body of work that Michael, in collaboration with Mary Yenik, has developed over the past 40 years. It is the most comprehensive framework of his pioneering of nonverbal communication.

Modified transcript

Hi, my name is Michael Grinder and I invite you into my House of Communication. This particular structure is a metaphor that explains nonverbal communication.

There are four floors on the house of communication.

The first floor as you enter is the content. You gotta know what to say before you can figure out how to deliver it. The content is the knowledge. It’s the verbal level. It’s the what of communication. Once you know what to say, then the second floor is how do you deliver it?

The second floor is where non-verbal communication occurs. On the second floor, we have four corridors that represent the four categories of non-verbal communication.

  • One of the hallways are all the visual non-verbals you can do, such as eye contact, frequency of eye contact, blinking, or looking at a piece of paper.
  • The second hallway is where you have your auditory non-verbals. Your auditory non-verbals are your voice speed, volume, tone, pitch, and that particular hallway is actually supported by the third hallway, which is your kinesthetic.
  • The popular term, body language, often refers to this particular, third hallway corridor. This is what you do from the neck down. Hand gestures, body location, posture. And it actually is the cause of how your voice changes, so whether your head is forward or back, if your chin comes up or down, if you hold your palms sideways, pointing down, pointing up, they all affect your voice pattern. So that’s the third hallway, kinesthetic.
  • The fourth hallway is the most important one. It’s breathing. This is where we understand about chemicals of fight, flight, and freeze, which occurs every time you either breathe shallow and when you do an inhalation. And then you have another part of that corridor, which is chemicals of calmness. If you breathe low and every time you exhale, you release chemicals of calmness.

Now, the first two floors, the content and the process, the verbal and the nonverbal, that makes up the science of communication. On these two levels, you’re trained to always do something, never do something.

It’s the third floor where it gets very, very interesting. This is perception. So now we enter the third floor. This and the floor above are the art levels.

This third floor is called perception, and as you go into it, you’ll notice that you have four walls. Each has a big picture window looking out of it. You’re looking out at reality.

  • As you go to the north wall, that N stands for a new person, and when you look out at that person and you use the binoculars of perception, you’re asking yourself, what is likely to be that person’s motivation, their beliefs? What are their values and what are their perceptual filters? That is the over-arching question when we look out of the north window at a new person.
  • Now, once we have an understanding of that particular wall, we then go to the east wall, and on the east wall, we’re now looking at two people interacting. And we use the letter E because it stands for, on the surface, that they’re both equal. But you want to find out who’s a little more equal than the other. In other words, the over-arching question that you have when you’re looking at two people interacting, is who is likely to be the dominant one? Who’s likely to influence? And when we say dominant, we’re talking about a factual description, not a value.
  • So we have the first two windows we look out of, and now we go over to the west wall. Oh, this is one of my favorites. The W stands for the whole group. You’re looking out the window at three or more people, and what is the artful question of perception? You’re asking, what is likely to happen next? And when you’re in group dynamics, you have to set aside that north wall. You certainly can’t ask the east wall who’s likely to influence. Nope. Group dynamics operates much faster than that. So we have to ask, what is likely to happen next? Asking that question allows the person in charge to lead the group, to be proactive in terms of what is gonna happen before it happens. And if you like what’s gonna happen, reinforce it, and if you don’t like it, make sure you intervene quickly and early.
  • One more wall, one more window, and that is the south wall. The S stands for the system. What is the difference between that west wall, people present, and the south wall, the system? The south wall is all the people present, plus all the people that are not present. It really talks about the culture of the system that you’re in. And the question you ask is, what is likely being reinforced or being rewarded? Who gets promoted? Who gets acknowledged? Who gets honored? And that is our third floor.

Are you a nonverbal communication practitioner, and you want to learn more about perception and the third floor? Check out this post!

The fourth floor is where permission lives. This is a most unusual term and it needs to be explained. When we say permission, we’re talking about who gets to talk about what, and when do they get to talk about it?

This is not a floor of power, authority, hierarchy. This is a floor of permission. And if you think that you can overpower someone and you don’t have to have permission, I assure you that we have teenagers that we can rent for a weekend and you’ll be with them. Sometime during that 48 hours, you’ll realize that they’re going through a crisis. You’ll know exactly what to say from the first floor, you know exactly the non-verbals that you could deliver it with, and you know exactly that they need it right now, the third floor. The real question is, are you the parent? Are you the authority figure? It really does take a whole village. So that’s why we invented that fourth floor, the floor of permission.

The roof of the house of communication is a great way to understand the overall view of why we do communication. The four letters that spell out roof, R O O F, actually indicate the four qualities of an exquisite communicator. We all do this at some time. The question is, can we study the four floors of the house of communication and then go up on the roof and make sure that we understand how to increase the frequency of doing exquisite communication?

  • The first letter, R, stands for rapport. How do you make contact? How do you engage?
  • Then, the next letter, the O, stands for, do you know what your outcome is? Can you be clear about that?
  • The second O stands for being outside yourself, and that basically is the third floor, perception.
  • And then I love the last letter, the F stands for flexibility. That’s when you go down to the first and second floor and you need to know what to say and how to say it in a most flexible manner.

I welcome you into my House of Communication. Stay awhile, visit on the floor that’s appropriate for you, and walk away a better communicator than you were before.

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