Thursday, December 29, 2011

Nonverbal Communication

What do you think is the most important part of your message:  your verbal message or the words you say, your vocal tone, or the visual part of your message that we refer to as "body language".

The believability or credibility of the sender of a message is critical to the success of the communication.  No matter what is said, it will not make much difference in the mind of the receiver unless the sender is believable and credible.  Effective communicators continuously build credibility and believability into everything they communicate.

The verbal is the message itself – the words you say. The vocal element is your voice – the intonation, projection, and resonance of the voice that carries those words. Finally, the visual element is what people see – your facial expression and body language.

There was a famous communication study done by Professor Albert Mehrabian of UCLA on the relationship of the three elements that are communicated every time we speak.

Mehrabian measured the difference between the believability of the verbal, vocal, and visual elements of our messages.  His research determined that the degree of consistency between these three elements was the factor that determines believability.

So, to go back to my original question:  the answer is VISUAL – body language!

Visual – 55%
Vocal – 38%
Verbal – 7%

The visual part of the message, our body language, including gestures and facial expression, determines how much credibility we have with our listener/receiver.  If the message is consistent, all three elements work together. The excitement and enthusiasm of the voice work with the energy and animation of the face and body to reflect the confidence and conviction of what is said.

To communicate effectively, you need to be aware of your facial expressions and gestures. Be sure your body language communicates the message you want to send. There are 80 muscles in the face that can make more than 7000 different facial expressions. Use facial expressions to convey your message, but be aware of the message your facial expression is sending. Many of us "talk with our hands" naturally, and gestures can add energy and emphasis to our communication. Just be aware that your gestures could be distracting or inappropriate.  One way to discover this is to videotape yourself and observe your body language.

Until next time...

Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR

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