Excerpted from the Communication-Skills Tutorial for Teachers. (last edited 8/7/17)

Communication Models



Six communication models:

Adversarial Communication Model

Lecturer's Communication Model

Military Communication Model

Military (Boot Camp) Drill Instructor's Model

Military Instructor's Communication Model

Intentional Communication Model



A model is a way of seeing-observing, describing, studying, and talking about something; it represents the actual thing.

Two examples:

1. Working with computers and modeling-clay designers will construct a small-scale model of a new airplane to see how it will behave in wind tunnel tests before they begin manufacturing. The model represents the plane.

2. When a communicologist designs a new communication model for a company, a way of interacting that supports excellence, rather than for say, quantity and fast production, he/she will test various rules, agreements, and variables on test groups or in workshops, before teaching this new way of communicating to the employees. The new way of communicating is referred to as a particular model.

Imagine if you will, the difference between the way employees at the Rolls Royce Motor Company interact with each other vs. the way employees do at any McDonalds. Seldom do fast-food employees clear with each other at the beginning and again at the end of each shift; most stuff their upsets, withholds, and the day's perpetrations and go home. A high tech automotive engineer can't afford to drag upsets into the next day's interactions—to do so virtually ensures costly accidents/mistakes.

Picture the difference in the honesty of a child who is cleared daily, one who participates in the parent-child clearing process each evening, and, a child who goes to bed without verbally acknowledging the good and bad things they've done that day, one who will drag those incompletes into every interaction they ever have—for life. Most parents teach their child to deceive them—evidenced by the fact that most dating teens con each other into deceiving both sets of parents so as to have sex.

Note: One feature of a communication model for employees committed to excellence is that each employee is aligned with the specific purpose of the organization (each is called upon often to recite it verbatim) and, everyone has affirmed their awareness of the correlation between personal integrity and outcomes. That is to say, all are clear that their personal and professional integrity affects not only the prosperity, but the health and aliveness of everyone. i.e. Spousal infidelity is tantamount to sabotage; non-verbally condoning deceit by a fellow employee is a covert way of thwarting the company's goals. i.e. All police officers know at least one fellow officer who is involved in deceit' the alleged "good" officer ignorantly votes to have it be that way for another 24 hours—thereby covertly thwarting their Chief.


Although the subject of communication models is covered at the college/university level it is presented and discussed by Professors/Instructors/Lecturers who themselves use what's referred to as the Adversarial Communication Model. I'm unaware of any college/university speech-communication curriculum that requires a student to design, create, and demonstrate proficiency with a second communication model.

For example: A new couple have little or no history between them, therefore they have not accumulated many withholds. Because there are relatively few withholds in the space between them love "happens" (usually the result of the body manufacturing certain endorphins, similar to the drug MDMA-ecstasy). The love that "happens" between couples who withhold thoughts from each other (such as deal-breaking considerations) is referred to as emotional peak experiences, as such the experience of love can't be recreated at will, especially after a significant argument or during a divorce. As the relationship progresses, starting on the first date, they begin withholding various significant thoughts from each other; these withholds serve as barriers to the experience of communication, of love. Because prior mutually satisfying communications happened accidentally, couples don't know how to recreate the experience of love at will through clearings.  "significant:" Any thought which if shared verbally would trigger upset or anger. For a thought to be significant one must consciously choose to withhold it. Fleeting insignificant thoughts that don't frequently reappear are not withholds. "verbally:" The word verbally reminds us that we are always communicating our withholds; others don't know what's wrong, they just know the relationship could have more moments of joyous love, they are unaware that the thought they are withholding from their partner is causing the breakdown in communication. It's impossible for one partner to have a significant withhold and the other have none.

The best we can do here is talk about models. As you continue with the Teacher's Tutorial you will begin to notice your programmed childhood adversarial communication model, the way of communicating used and taught to you by parents, teachers, and clergy. The model used throughout our tutorials is referred to as the Intentional Communication Model, also referred to as a mutually satisfying communication model.



Adversarial Communication Model

The adversarial communication model is used and taught by speech-communication Professors/Lecturers/Instructors throughout the nation’s universities and colleges. Specifically, it is used to introduce undergrad students, including education majors, to the fundamentals and principles of interpersonal communication. This model is therefore emulated by all educators (school teachers) who teach using this way of communicating, this way of interacting, with their students.

The adversarial communication model is characterized by, badmouthing, blaming, make-wrong, and eliciting, condoning, forwarding gossip, and withholding certain kinds of thoughts. The implied agreement being, to be better-than and to get ahead-at-the-expense-of-others. 

The adversarial communication model is easily identified when dealing with the legal system because it's concerned with right-wrong, fault-finding, and blame.

It’s easy to tell that one is addicted to the adversarial communication model because the person is addicted to arguing; they simply cannot "be with" these paragraphs except that their mind automatically finds something wrong with most everything. They are in fact, at-effect of some different points of view; their points of view are so entrenched that they automatically (usually non-verbally) shut down the space for communication to take place. I say addicted because it’s virtually impossible for the person to simply get (to be with) another’s communication.

A person stuck using the adversarial model is unconscious; he/she cannot hear him/herself, so they can't instantly put in correction.

Two Examples:

During an open discussion in a speech-communication class a student might say, “Why doesn’t that jerk (referring to the university's Chancellor) fix the parking signs?” The Sp-Com Instructor, instead of acknowledging the irresponsible badmouthing make-wrong, will reply, “I don’t know, that’s least of his screw-ups this semester, he’s too busy trying to get more grants.” A more appropriate response would be, “That doesn’t feel good.” “Have you told the Chancellor that you’re trash-talking him behind his back?” The Instructor would then continue with, “One might easily assume that you are not educated; an educated responsible person communicates a problem to the person who can do something about it, else it's referred to as an irresponsible dump. Dumping mind-clutter into our space here in this classroom was both invalidating and abusive.” [It's not making the best use of the dumped-on person's mind.] “More importantly, a responsible criticism would be, “I don’t like the parking lot signs and, I’m unwilling to do what it would take to have them repaired.” Or, "Anyone have any suggestions I could give the Chancellor?"

Imagine the reaction if you told a potential mate, "BTW: I reserve the option of withholding certain thoughts from you. Is that O.K.?" This happens to be the implied non-verbal agreement between the majority of couples.



Lecture's Communication Model

Educators also use the Lecturer's Communication Model. A lecturer presents information and assumes no responsibility for ensuring that each and every student gets it.  Responsibility as in: "Causing."

A Speech-Communication Instructor will assign homework to undergrads and not follow up to ensure that each and every student does it. In other words, the homework is not communicated with an intention for it to be done. Professors lecture rather than communicate. They assume no responsibility for ensuring that communication takes place. Professors and public speakers simply dump information on the audience. The speaker's point of view is that it's the listener's responsibility to get it. This model is perfectly appropriate at the undergrad level, providing, the Instructor insists, "Raise your hand the minute you don't understand something." —else, the Instructor ignores what he/she knows happens when the mind is confused or upset; a listener's mind gets left behind in the presentation, still mulling over what was said earlier, The listener simply can't be-here-now with the speaker's next sentence.

It’s understood that undergrad students have accepted responsibility for learning. The problem with this is that education majors have not been taught and can demonstrate how to co-create agreements with students and parents. The skill has not been modeled for them by their speech-communication Instructors.

It’s irresponsible to relate with say, sixth graders, as though they have made an agreement to be in school and to learn. Most are going to school because adults have manipulated them. Few are presented with a clear conscious choice—agree to attend school or not—therefore some begin to drop out after seventh grade.  K-12 students need support in doing complete work, in honoring agreements. They need to have modeled for them how, as potential parents, to have their eventual progeny do their chores and homework. Few parents are aware that to send their child to school without the homework neatly done is to thwart the person they are paying to teach their child; it's called unconscious covert thwarting. The parent's unconscious negative support-skills ensure that their child doesn't get too smart. Smart students start supporting their parent's health and integrity so as to function at the level of excellence; breakdowns in communication between parents would be mediated by their knowledgeable child who is clear about responsibility, ergo abusive-blaming, take-aways, make-wrongs, and how to clean up such perpetrations.



Military Communication Model

To preclude confusion I'll point out now that we are going to be talking about three distinct ways that military personnel relate with each other.

Military Communication Model
Military (Boot Camp) Drill Instructor's Model
Military Instruction Communication Model

If you refer to our About Us you'll see that my military background is about as varied and extensive as it gets. Navy submarines and then UDT/SEALs. After that, commanding army airborne infantry troops in Vietnam. My point is that I have experienced lots of incredible schools and trainings—Navy Basic Training (boot camp), Electricians School, Submarine School, School of the Boat (one year of none-stop [no movies or chess] studying the sub), UDT Training (Hell Week), Advanced Underwater Swimmers School, Hard Hat Diving School, Army R.O.T.C. Training, Infantry Officer Training, Jungle Survival School, and Parachute Training School—in other words, I'm pretty familiar with military Instructors.

There is no single military communication model. There is a typical way of relating that is recognized and understood throughout the U.S. armed services. It's also true that within each branch of service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard), and within certain units in a particular branch, (Infantry, Medical, Finance, etc.), there are also well defined and distinct models. Mostly these differences have to do with leadership styles. i.e. Working in an Army Recruiting Station in Minneapolis is almost like working for a real estate company, with the exception of the uniforms. It's casual, almost no saluting and most everyone socializes with each other.

What's also true is that at any given moment throughout the armed services the superior always has the option of bringing forth the authoritarian communication model with which most civilians are familiar. The authoritarian model is sometimes used as a wake-up call when familiarity has resulted in disrespect or mediocrity.



Military (Boot Camp) Drill Instructor's Model

Most civilians are familiar with the Drill Instructor's Model. Drill Sergeants have their own communication model and for the most part it is not experienced again in one's military career. The main distinction between a Drill Sergeant's Model and a Military Instructor's Model is that the former is abusive; it's characterized by abusive yelling, screaming, insulting, etc. Drill Sergeants honestly believe they can't produce the desired results without such abuse.



Military Instructional Communication Model

The Military Instructional Model varies very little from branch to branch or unit to unit within any branch of service.

For Example:

Most Army Instructors sound like and relate like most Navy Instructors. An Army rifle Instructor or parachuting Instructor or a Navy electrician Instructor follow pretty much the same format and have nearly identical teaching styles.

The Military Instruction Model is very simple. The Instructor verbalizes what they are going to present. They have you read the sentence they just verbalized. They then present the subject matter verbally with graphics and hands-on models/equipment. They then verbalize what they presented. They then review/recapitulate for you what they presented. They then test you to see if you got what they presented. Most every class begins with a pop quiz. They teach you how you will be tested and then test you. All instructors grade pretty much the same; few assign homework. It is virtually impossible to graduate from a military school without having the exact skills they want you to have and knowing what they want you to know, and with a high degree of certainty that you can immediately assume the duties for which you have been trained.

What's also true is that an Instructor-Student partnership develops. When one falls behind, as I did a few times, it became clear that to fail is to hurt the Instructor's chances for promotion (read pay raise). This commitment to have each other succeed works.

The main reason for bringing up the Military Instruction Communication Model is to affirm that it is possible to communicate subject matter to a measurable standard, no excuses no reasons, and, without being abusive or sounding like a Drill Sergeant.


It is possible to combine what you've learned with what works in the military. I've done it and so can you.

It's well known that military educational classes, at least those taught to service personnel below senior officers (Majors and Colonels), are taught at a 6th grade reading level. This means that the manuals and handouts are written to ensure comprehension by an average sixth grader. On the other hand, verbal communications between instructors and students, from my experience, are not far removed from the vocabulary used by most public school teachers. In other words, normal and typical.

What I'm getting at here is that the military cannot afford to have a submariner who doesn't understand the physics of buoyancy, water and air pressures. A tank driver must know not only how to drive a tank but also they must have a working knowledge of vehicle maintenance, computer operations, communication systems, tactics, and the physics of gunnery, trajectories, and ballistics. Military personnel operate some of the most sophisticated electronics in the world. These submariners and tank commanders are 18 & 19 year-old high school graduates.

What then is the difference between the military's teaching communication model and that of our public school systems? The answer has to do with intention and responsibility.

After all, school teachers and military instructors alike attended the same high school speech classes and for that matter most all have met the same college speech/communication curriculum requirements.

Military students are communicated with from the point of view that it's the Instructor's responsibility to teach. Military Instructors are graded and promoted based upon their teaching skills measured by the number of failures against successes.

A failing student is handled from the point of view that the Instructor has a communication problem, not the student.

Instructors themselves are not allowed to fail, such is the coaching by their superiors; it's just not allowed to get that bad.

The Instructor intends for all qualified students to pass. A student who does not pass is given an opportunity to retake the class with close tutorial supervision.

Also, an Instructor's immediate superior and an Instructor Trainee sit at the rear of the classroom. The Instructor's presentation is critiqued by both after each class.

Most importantly, military instructors have accepted responsibility for each student to learn what is presented. No excuses, no reasons.

Obviously my point is that "No Child Left Behind" can be done but not if it continues to be implemented using the prevailing adversarial communication model.

Ah, but you say, "I can't force my students to . . . " or, "Parents would never . . ." or an endless number of reasons and excuses guaranteed to produce more of the same.

My sense is that if we put you in charge of your school to get the job done, you'd find a way to ensure that every willing parent-child team passed the SAT scores. Predictably, you'd have 70% dropouts but the those who graduated would not be among the nation's 25% that require remedial courses as college freshman.

The foremost barrier to getting the job done is reasonableness. One either gets the job done or they have their reasons.

Students who complete the homework not only recreated your intention, but they created it for themselves. Your job is to create the students recreating your creation through to completion. That is a mutually satisfying communication model.



Intentional Communication Model

The Intentional Communication Model is modeled throughout the tutorial. Its premise is that intention equals result; the way to discover your intentions is by observing the results you've been producing using your leadership-communication skills. If the results aren't what you envisioned, then you were unconscious at the time. Read: (Imitation of Communication)

Some of the agreements used with Intentional Communication are:

  • You must be willing to communicate openly, honestly, and spontaneously, to communicate all withholds, through to mutual satisfaction.

  • You must be willing to communicate responsibly, zero blame.

  • You must be willing to communicate a problem to the person who can do something about it; also when presenting a problem, offer a solution.

  • You must be willing to communicate an upset to the person with whom you have the upset; you may first clear with a third person about the upset for coaching on how bring about a mutually satisfying outcome. 

  • If someone is badmouthing another, ask if they have communicated what they are saying about the absent person to that person, if not, ask, "Would you be willing to? Also, "Please let me know when you have." It is unethical to elicit (verbally/non-verbally support) badmouthing gossip.

  • You must be willing to keep your word, to honor your agreements.

  • Most importantly, you must be willing to communicate. i.e. You cannot control another, keeping them incomplete by shutting down communication. What works is, "I don't want to talk about it now—I'll talk about it first thing tomorrow morning."

Notice the use of the word "willing." These agreements are co-created by all concerned. Your responsibility is to interact with those who are willing to communicate responsibly.

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