How to Improve Your Communication Skills

By Rom Watson
circa March 15, 2016

Eight years ago, I read that 93% of communication is non-verbal.  My brain is still trying to process that information.

If it’s true, and instinct tells me it is, then my approach to communication has always been wrong.  I’ve worked hard to find the right words, thinking if only I select the correct ones people will understand me.  But it turns out spoken words count for very little in life.

Only 7% in fact. What counts is body language and tone of voice.  Body language comprises 55% of communication, and tone of voice the remaining 38%.  These numbers were arrived at by Professor Albert Mehrabian, as the result of two studies he and his colleagues conducted in the 1960’s.

Mehrabian’s research was based on how much information could be conveyed in one word.  His results were never meant to apply to conversation.  Nevertheless, they showed that people are more influenced by tone of voice than by words alone.

I am aware of my body language, but tone of voice is beyond me.  I simply cannot hear it. When I think I’m relaying information in a neutral tone of voice, I’m sometimes perceived as mean.

As a child, taking refuge in the written word allowed me to express myself clearly. As a result I write better than I speak.  I’m more confident my message is getting across as intended when people read my writing, because I’m not there to confuse the reader with my body language or tone of voice.  This reliance on words became my method to communicate verbally.

All those years of wielding words, striving to find the perfect ones, and for what?  A measly 7% of communication.

Faced with these statistics, how does one improve their verbal communication skills?  The answer is obvious.

Become a mime.



















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5 Responses to How to Improve Your Communication Skills

  1. Hugh says:

    So THAT’s why we should never make fun of mimes! I knew there was a reason. On the other hand, I have a hard time believing your voice is routinely perceived as “mean,” Rom. You have a wonderful, warm, comforting voice…that’s why we used you to read the Fritz Lieber Jr. quote in our Theda Bara documentary “The Woman with the Hungry Eyes.” Best wishes to you and Cory. (Enjoyed the mime photos, too!)

  2. Jim Wito says:

    I might be able to help with this one.
    By a “neutral” tone perhaps you mean like an even tone. One that doesn’t show any emotion. When people talk to each other there is naturally a change in tone. Sometimes you emphasize a word or your voice rises or lowers a little. A lack of emotion in your voice tends to indicate someone who lacks empathy or is a “mean person”.
    There is a technique I was shown in a voice-over class that gives you a friendlier tone. Simply smile when you talk. You can try it. Record yourself saying something in your neutral tone and then say the same thing but this time smile when you say it. Then listen to what it sounds like. The one with the smile will sound friendlier.
    Hope that helps.
    I also like the Mime photos. But then again I tend to like mimes.
    Hope all is well with you and Cory. Take care.
    Wito :o)

  3. Okay… love the concept and the photos… Marcel would be so proud!

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