Talking about aesthetics is most often talking about the fine arts. But the concept of aesthetics is broader than the concept of fine art. Aesthetics can also be seen as an inescapable dimension of communication.
Aesthetic communication can be acknowledged as the mode of communicating. Instead of information we might talk about the (in)formation of communication, i.e., the form of communication, knowing that the “same” information may be formed in different ways.
The aim of not only focusing on, but actively using the aesthetic means is to enhance the pragmatic effectiveness of communication by seducing an audience and thereby making it more willing to accept an offer of communication.
The two parts of communication are not in spontaneous contact with each other, as it is almost impossible to transfer thoughts directly from one mind to another. Therefore, communication must make use of a sensual medium which can be perceived by both parts. The aim of aesthetic communication is to capture, enchant and bind the attention of a receiver.
In aesthetic communication the sender tries to evoke and control not just the actual focus of the receiver, but also his way of perceiving, his mood, which is not directed towards concrete objects as “feelings for”, but has to do with his general sensibility, his way of opening himself to the world and himself.
On the basis of the sensuous experience of communication, an imaginary world is created which, in turn, attunes the receiver when, for example, he is shopping in a supermarket, listening to the soft music which hopefully will stimulate his desire to buy. In the same move in which the sender evokes a certain attunement he can also attempt to transform the general mood of the receiver to a more concrete feeling for a specific object or subject.
This is why commercials present us with scenes of appealing and erotic leisure activities, whether the product being advertised is a soft drink, a chocolate bar or a shampoo. Naturally, for this trick to work a certain quota of failure must be accepted.
Because urban people are exposed to thousands of logos, posters, advertisements and commercials every day, they have to protect themselves by being selective. This, in turn, motivates companies to intensify the appeal of their messages. In the struggle for attention, aesthetics plays an important role.
Aesthetic communication and The organization
We can construe an organization as a system of communication, distinguishing between members and non-members and using decisions as a means of continuing its communication. Decisions are used to open a space of uncertainty and to absorb that uncertainty so that an organization can concurrently calibrate its system-environment relations. The premises of decisions are information which includes (in)formation, i.e. aesthetic form.
Since all communication has an aesthetic dimension, it’s a two-sided dimension with a sensing side and an opinion side; no organization can evade aesthetic observations. Therefore the interest in aesthetics arises when organizations focus on their communication.
All communication is based on an “I” (sender), a “You” (recipient) and an “It” (object/service etc) where the message of it is constructed as a silent dialogue between “I” and “You” while “You” are affected of “It”.
When focusing on the aesthetic of communication, “It” becomes a clue in a structure, which are separated and located in the ongoing communication.
In an organizational relationship, the “I” becomes: The Organization, “You”: The stakeholders and “It”: the organizations logo, a campaign, a meeting room, a product or service etc, but it can also be a detail that is part of a larger “It”.
By using aesthetic means in communication, a conscious attraction can be embedded, so the stakeholder is captured and tempted to pursue the interest of the organization, for example, to buy a product or service or strive to become the employee of the month.
In the preparation of the aesthetic communication, it is important, through “It”, to strike an aesthetic kind of “mood” with stakeholders.
This means that the aesthetics has a specific function in which it promotes the organization and its autopoiesis. This happens when stakeholders in the organization’s interest have been emotionally “mooded” to act in accordance with a way that promotes both their own and the organization interests.
Advantageously, the aesthetic communication can be controlled so that organizations can direct the process their aesthetic information has. However, this can only happen to some extent because communication operates in a social system where several actors are involved, which makes a 100% control impossible even if the control of the communication is controlled. Because in the outermost border area there is a “spontaneity” there draw attention to the organization itself, because how is the communication in an unattended moment?
However, this “cracking” can be used with advantage, for example, to show the organization’s values even more, which make it possible for a stronger trust in the organization from stakeholders.
Within the controlled and barely force majeure embossed fields, are 6 main aesthetic domains of organizations: name, rhetoric, narrative, advertising, design and architecture. (Other domains could be added, for instance interior design, in-store design, uniforms or organizational gastronomy presented in canteens etc.)
These main six topics are specific areas of action for an organization’s management and are used inevitably. With aesthetic means, stakeholders can be influenced in a way that avoids conscious control, while affecting their willingness to join the organization. In this exchange, the sender will often be reflexive, and the recipient is often intuitive, which means that communication takes place in a sensible medium.
Within each of the six aesthetic domains, communication is aimed at a recipient, regardless of whether words, pictures or physical things are used. Together, the fields draw the aesthetic profile of the organization, where it is the differentiation of the chosen communication, which determines the target audience(s) the organization will turn too consciously.
Aesthetics is not something that an organization may choose to use or not to use. Aesthetics is always there; organizations are made of communication, and as communication they have an aesthetic dimension.
Whether an organization tries to harmonize its aesthetic endeavors, fusing them into a single, unified style, or rather accepts a heterogeneous mixture of different styles is an empirical question.
Case: When mixed aesthetic communications clash with emotions.
If we for an example take a look of a small company who sell services (called A). Good services & A uses the classical aesthetic domains very well.
“A” have different kinds of stakeholders; organizations (called B) and individuals (called C) – (some Bs also direct some of the Cs to A).
A has (besides having good services) used a specific charming aesthetic to attract B to send more of group C to A (potentially all benefits from this social construction).
When this kind of case is good and all is happy everything is perfect. But sometimes there might be complaints – let’s say from the C group to A.
How can this be if the service and the aesthetic communications in its overall are good and everybody benefits from the services?
This could be due to clash of aesthetic communications like A appears to one “thing”. B think A are one thing but with a twist of something else. C know a little from A and B and therefore have a unique idea of A.
Representatives from both A, B and C have some kind of pressure in their general life outside the situation of being related to each other in this case. Which mean all may not sense and think clear all the time.
If A does not deliver the aesthetic communications B and C think A is they might like to complain to A. Perhaps even be rude towards A.
Sometimes complaints are relevant sometimes they are not but they could be an invitation to optimize A´s aesthetic communication in a compassionate way.
So what to do for A: Observe, ask and select.
1: Observe A (the owner/employees/company)
2: Observe what B tells C about A and their services.
3: Observe C – How are there the circumstances C have.
1: Ask: Are the aesthetic communications within A good and harmonious? If you are the owner you might also like to look into the business values and perhaps the stress level within A and/or yourself.
2: Ask: Are the aesthetic communications from A to B clear?
3: Ask: Are the complaints from C only based on your service or is it a mix of many emotions related to different kinds of situations?
*Who to ask? Your higher self my dear – you have the information you need to adjust the sitution. Be silent, ask and listen. If nothing comes to you you might like to train yourself in listening to your own power. Or consult Christine Boegh or similar.
When you receive answers yourself: Be honest about the information you get and selective. Honest because you would only lie to yourself if not and selective because not everything is your business or thing to deal with.
Then tweak the aesthetic communications. If we for an example say complaints from C is something that happens a little more than we like to. Then for an example one simple fine tuning could be: A to acknowledge Cs situation and in advance and with compassion inform C that A knows about Cs situation and that it is ok – and if appropriate in a fun and relaxed way.
It could be as simple as one sentence or sometimes the knowing is all that is needed (A might automatically changes the rhetoric by knowing something sensible).
A little love and compassion can bring a lot of calmness in many situations and in this way A could reduce complaints from group C by being a little more aware of subtle energies & aesthetic communications and also win a expanding of A´s expression of love and compassion for the benefit of all.
Of cause there can be complaints that are so far-out they give no meaning to deal with towards the one who complaints. But if it happens I suggest A to show A a little more love, joy and compassion.
With Love & Compassion
- Christine ?
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Sources: Professor Ole Thyssen, Professor Niklas Luhmann and I.
*During my study time at the University of Copenhagen I had the pleasure to take several courses on Copenhagen Business School. One of them was Aesthetic Management whit Professor Ole Thyssen – Such an intelligent, inspiring, warm and funny person. I highly recommend his writings.