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When Words are SO Important

This week, I was reminded of a vivid conversation I had with Steve Graham of Internet Mentor

We were discussing the ‘plagiarism’ of Dr Albert Mehrabian’s work and his often misquoted study of accepted meaning from the way we communicate.

His oft-cited research suggests that only 7% of the message we receive while communicating with others comes from the words that are used.  Only seven percent!  This means that 93% of the message comes from body language (at 55%) and tone of voice (at 38%).  I have heard, as a post script by almost all presenters, myself included in times gone by, that even though words make up a mere 7%, they are still important!

I have mulled over this and wonder why we should make such a statement.  Then Steve drove the message home (in a phone call as it happened!)  It is not the message that is heard or seen it is a perceived meaning that is heard or seen and the consequence of that. 

Mehrabian’s research was undertaken and published in the 1970s!  Yet so much of our communication now is no longer face to face – the 2.0 era is upon us.  We communicate regularly via email, Blogs, Facebook, My space and text.  There is very little opportunity to ascertain the meaning of what is being said from body language and tone of voice.  No wonder we end up wasting time and energy correcting a misconception from a slightly mis-worded email – 93% of the meaning that we have been used to using is lost!

So getting the content right using these new communication channels has got to be crucial, but so too will be getting the tone right and … I guess – the body language.  The words and the punctuation you use are paramount in offering the right tone of voice, but how do we now communicate body language? 

I am looking for great examples of written communication that makes use of body language to get the meaning of the message across. If you have any suggestions and/or links please do list them here:

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