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.