I have been refreshing my knowledge of what makes up effective communication again for an upcoming presentation.  I think I may have mentioned once or twice that I have a large library of reference books; and so I aimlessly pulled one out and sat down to do a bit of reading …. and there it was again :

We make a mistake if we believe that our words form the base of our communication.  In truth Words only form 7% or so of our communication, the rest is 38% from how we say them and 55% from our body language!

I looked at the date of the book and thought maybe they amended it in later editions – I surely hoped so!!  But fired with the enthusiasm of a convert (I also once took the sound bite as the fact) I decided to do a little research on the Internet.  Surely, by now the truth had overcome the myth?

And yet there it is for all to see again, written down (in words) to confuse and confound ;  Life Style coaches state it with authority.   Sites that give otherwise excellent advice on the communication process fall into the same trap  – so it seems that the myth is still alive and well.

And yet if we only took a little time to consider what it really means to state that WHAT we say is far less important than HOW we say it, surely we can immediately see the fallacy of that? 

It makes nonsense of all our telephone conversations – emails are out; and facebook is dead.  Because how can we possibly get our thoughts and opinions across to others when 93% of our communication is missing, and we have to rely merely on the written word?

And all this nonsense is blamed on poor Professor Albert Mehrabian!! 

Here’s a humorous take on the problem by those creative communicators at Creativity Works in the UK 

So now we know that Professor Mehrabian had a special type of communication in mind when he formulated his theory – is when we speak of how we feel that we have conflict if our body language and  our voice does not match our spoken words. It is then and then only, that our audience will believe our visual and vocal communication rather than our verbal.

And for the truth of that we have many examples :

Husband – “What’s the matter, dear?”
Wife – “Nothing!”

And I bet you need NO  visuals to understand that exchange.

In normal communication it must be surely obvious that it is WHAT we say that underpins all our communication; but really effective communication starts when all three of the human process work together to reinforce the message.

We build information into rational and logical conclusions through the intellectual component of our speech, which we deliver verbally – and we create commitment to accept and action them through our vocal and our visual elements, which provide the necessary emotional component.

Take out just one of those three ‘v’s’ then the effectiveness of our communication will automatically decrease.

It’s not rocket science.
Michele @ Trischel

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