The Authority Figure: a tool for effective communication

Door Jeroen de Graaf -

The ‘Authority figure’. A very interesting tool to recognize the different authority figures during a conversation. Why? If you would like to be heard and to communicate you only need one figure: the reflex authority. So, how can you realize the reflex authority? Continue reading and I will explain you more.

If you would like, for example, realize an overall strategy you need to communicate a lot to realize and to embed the strategy. In my previous blog I wrote about how to create an overall company strategy via the OGSM model. Here I explained you about how powerful and efficient this model is to realize your general company’s strategy and KPI’s. Each department needs to give their input to create the final OGSM. At the end you will have a qualitative and a quantitative strategy with a KPI per department. But how do you integrate this within the organization? Indeed by a good and efficient communication.

Thanks to my study of body language/ synergology I would like to give you a great tool which you can use to realize an effective way of communication. Let’s take some time to explain more to you about the different figures and the Authority model.

The Authority model

If you would like to present your strategy to your organization you need to get everyone on the same communication level. In the Authority figure we call this the Reflex authority. This is the only authority where we are on the same level, it is where we communicate and listen. That is exactly what you want if you like to realize and embed your company strategy. But how do you get in this authority? And even better: how do you stay in this reflex authority? First, let me explain more about the Authority figure (see figure 1: Authority figure) itself.

Authority and conversation

No one has the same body dynamics or the same personality structure. During a conversation we have a relationship with the other (or the group) which also develops and changes. It is important to understand this communication process during a conversation. Because during a conversation you can feel (and it changes) equal, superior, interior or exterior to the other. So the Authority figure works with 4 types of authority during a conversation. These 4 authority figures are:

  • Conqueror (Superior to the other)
  • Syntonic (Inferior to the other)
  • Vigilant (Exterior to the other)
  • Reflexive (Equal to the other)

As mentioned above, the authority figure of a person (or/and yourself) will change during a conversation which has to do with the fact of the way of communication. During the conversation the figure can also change into a positive (Green) or negative (Red) vibe. Let me give you an example. The Conqueror in a positive mode (check figure 1: green type) is for example a teacher who explains his knowledge to his students. A Conqueror in a negative mode (check figure 1: red type) is for example a salesman who is willing to sell you his product without your interest in mind. So one authority figure can have two states, a positive and a negative mode.  


Figure 1: Authority figure

Types of authority figures

It is important to recognize the authority figures when you would like to embed your company strategy. Here's some more detail background concerning the different figures.

  • The Reflex (R): figure is in the middle, this is the only moment when you listen to each other because you are both equal to each other. All the sentences are in balance, environment, emotion, and way of talking. There is no conflict between overruling, be negative or be external of the conversation.
  • The Conqueror (C): is much more in the lead during a conversation. The way of this communication is called top down, only interested in him/herself or in the topic. The person will hardly listen because of the focus of the topic and will not be open to any arguments. If you present yourself in this Authority figure you will lose some of your audience because you are overruling them. Or otherwise, if another person is in this authority figure you will not easily listen to him/her.
  • The Syntonic (S): is feeling more inferior to the topic/group. The information will be received as critic and the person is more internal to him/herself. If you ask for any commitment or opinion, the answer will be a yes but at the end their will be no commitment to do so.
  • The Vigilant (V): is not secure and more scared concerning the communication. The arguments and information which will be sent will not be received as real input. You really need to convince the Vigilant with proof and material during the conversation/ communication. The Vigilant has a fear to lose and the person will be go easily external (out of) of the topic. At the end there will be no commitment after the communication.

How to recognize and how to deal with this information?

The goal of using the Authority figure is to have a pleasant and effective way of communication. It is too complex to write every detail concerning the Authority figure in this blog. But if you combine these tips with above explanation of the types you are already one step ahead. A tip to read these figures, please see the authority figure as a person or as yourself during a conversation. Which movements do you or the other make? The gestures and sitting positions change by the moment of a conversation.

How to get in the Reflex Authority?

So let me explain more about the different types of authority figures and how you can recognize the authority. You can see the difference by the gestures the person (or yourself) makes or by the seating position. Of course there are more items to recognize but let's  focus on these two items and give you a hint how to get in the Reflex authority.

  • The Reflex figure (R): for example the meeting is with full of interest of both sides. All the attendances are seating more to the front of the Table and the gestures are low and equal to the others. In this modus you can communicate in ease but be aware to stay in this figure.
  • The Conqueror figure (C): for example the meeting is more in control by the Conqueror. You can tell by the gestures of the hands (high gestures) and the way of communication (no way of listening) the person makes. How to get in the reflex figure? Just ask some detail questions about the topic.
  • The Syntonic figure (S): for example the person is calm and makes low gestures with the hands and body. He/she has problems to receive some critics and feels inferior in this situation. How to get in the reflex figure? Just ask for support and give him/her more responsibility during the meeting.
  • The Vigilant figure (V): for example the person is very calm and quiet with low attention to the meeting. There are no or very little movements of the hand and body. There is no trust in the communication and information which has been shared. How to get in the reflex figure? Ask the opinion of the vigilant and stay in communication by asking the answers which are given. Give him/her more responsibility during the meeting.

The next steps

If you have any questions concerning an OGSM model: how to integrate the overall strategy within the organization, implement the KPI’s of the touchpoints (omni-channel) and how to communicate this correctly within the organization. Make use of the authority figure and get more detail information about using this figure.

Do not hesitate to contact me, I am more than willing to support.