The Forgotten Power of 3 Key Communication Elements

Virtual, text, phone, face-to-face…


Connecting with each other today through various methods, working quickly, so many decisions to be made, and people seemingly not caring about errors in someone’s speech or messages...


Why do you care about being a talented and successful communicator?


Because for many people – and you won’t necessarily know which ones until it’s too late -- how you relate to others can mean your success or failure with clients, employees, family, friends, and strangers. It can make or break a relationship, make or lose a sale, keep or dismantle a valued team, or create other negative or positive impacts on your life.


Since connection through communication is so critical, let’s focus on how we interpersonally connect with each. Tone of voice, body language, and word choice are generally considered the 3 foundation elements of how people communicate. To connect with someone, you need your communication to be believable. These 3 elements need to be in alignment by reflecting the same intention or the receiver of your message may become confused, not feel you are being sincere, or even that you may be trying to trick them.


These elements do not impact your message equally. A commonly cited study by UCLA Professor Albert Mehrabian suggested that a speaker’s body language and tone of voice have a much greater impact on how we feel and believe about a message than on the actual words spoken. Prof. Mehrabian quantified this impact in percentages in the “7%-38%-55% Rule” relating to spoken communication: that nonverbals account for 55% of what a receiver reads in our communications, tone of voice is 38%, and the words used make up 7%.

To apply this concept to a personal experience you may have had, think of this: Have you ever walked into a room, saw a person, and without that person even saying a word, you can ‘just tell’ the person is extremely happy? Or very upset? This is your interpretation of that person’s nonverbals. Another example of how we can highlight the importance of the alignment of these elements looks like this: Someone says to you, “I do not have a problem with you!" yet this person avoids eye contact and looks anxious. What message is that person conveying and how should you interpret it?

As communication is a part of everything we do in life and so critical to the success and happiness of ourselves and others, taking action to be an outstanding communicator and relationship builder should be a key focus for you. In the coming months, I will be exploring further the 7%-38%-55% Rule.

Written by: Pat Noel, frequent Guest Blogger at The Communication Gym and President of Talent Development Solutions LLC. Thank you for introducing us to Mehrabian's Communication Theory and how it applies to our daily interactions with others.

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