Porter’s Attitudes

Porter’s Attitudes


In a communication situation, everyone reacts with their own experience by adopting attitudes and behaviours. These attitudes are most often unconscious and lead to specific reactions in the relationship.

We could compare a message to an iceberg:

The top is visible: explicit message, words, behaviour: 20 to 30% of the communication.

The submerged part: implicit message, emotions, feelings, and attitudes: 70 to 80% of the communication.

When faced with a message, we adopt different attitudes. Elias Hull PORTER, American psychologist (1914-1987), and close colleague of Abraham MASLOW and Carl ROGERS identifies 6 attitudes.

  • 4 attitudes of influence
  • o Evaluation, judgement

    o Interpretation

    o Support, help

    o Decision, immediate solution

  • 2 attitudes of non-influence
  • o investigation, enquiry

    o understanding

The aim of this sheet is not to prescribe a particular attitude but to question its impact on the relationship with the other person. Some are adapted to the context, while others are not.

When a message is sent, here are the different attitudes and impacts.

4 attitudes can be classified as influencing attitudes, and 2 as non-influencing attitudes.

  • Attitude = way of being that determines behaviour
  • Behaviour = way of doing

Every situation calls for an attitude. The main thing is to step back and react consciously.

Interactions induites
1. Evaluation, judgment
To make a judgement, a positive or negative criticism by referring to norms and values, by imposing one's "expert" point of view "I feel that...”
Guilt, rebellion, aggressiveness, communication blockage, need to justify oneself or generate dependency, and submission.
2. Interpretation
Thinking in the other's shoes. Translating the other person's ideas and behaviour in your own way, using your own criteria "I know why you say that”
Risk of misinterpretation. Misunderstanding, disinterest, and mistrust, but can sometimes facilitate communication with people who find it difficult to express their ideas.
3. Support, help, reassurance
Support the person by playing down the situation, sympathising, trying to console "it's not serious", or "I will help you".
This may be useful temporarily, for example with someone who has little experience. This de-dramatises the situation and provides comfort but limits exploration of the situation.
4. Decision, immediate solution
Decide what the other person should do. Impose an authoritarian relationship and guide them with advice and solutions. Advice: "me instead of you" or order: "you must...”
Risk of rejection, misunderstanding, and domination, limits the level of autonomy of the other.
5. Investigation
Ask questions to clarify this or that point without necessarily taking into account the other person's priorities. "Why? How?”
Allows the situation to be clarified. Can quickly turn into a police investigation if there are too many questions.
6. Understanding
With reformulation. Empathy Listen to the other to the end and rephrase to be sure you have understood the thought, the emotion of the other… " If I understand… “
Good communication and acceptance of the other in his state, empower the other in decision-making. Feeling of having been listened to, heard, understood and respected.