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4-Sides Model

Field of application


Intercultural Training

Resume / Brief description


This activity is based on the 4-Sides Model by Friedemann Schulz von Thun.

Target group





Colleagues of the same company or work team

Colleagues working in intercultural contexts

Professionals of different area

Group size

There is a minimum number of 1 participant for this exercise. The ideal group size is 12-20 participants.


The activity has the objective


  • To differentiate between the four levels of communication:
    • Factual,
    • Self-revealing,
    • Relationship, and
    • Appeal.





  • Stopwatch
  • Signal (whistle, sound signal, etc.)



  • 10-15 minutes for the activity
  • 5 minutes for the debriefing

Implementation - Guidelines





1.       Preparation


  • Read the explanation of the model and analysis of different messages


2.       Process


  • Present the 4-sides model
  • Make a first example statement
  • Analyse the factual level
  • Analyse the self-revealing level
  • Analyse the relationship level
  • Analyse the appeal level
  • Make a second example statement
  • Re-analyse all levels


3.       Debriefing


  • What does the other person hear from me through all four sides?
  • Do I hear everything the other person communicates?
  • Can I draw other conclusions from the other person's message that are more empathetic, accepting and inclusive?


Handout for individual work: Handout_Offline Reflection and Discussion.pdf

Additional format/references

Thiagarajan, S. (2012). More Jolts! 50 Activites to Wake Up And Engage Your Participants, San Francisco: Pfeiffer.


Thiagarajan, S. (2016). Interaktive Trainingsmethoden: Thiagis Aktivitäten für berufliches, interkulturelles und politisches Lernen in Gruppen (3. Auflage.). Schwalbach: Wochenschau Verlag.