April 12, 2009

The Implications of Nonverbal Communications

"Only seven percent of what we say is conveyed through words. Tone and visual cues make up the other 93 percent. That is why email messages are so often misunderstood. Ed Muzio of Group Harmonics suggests using email only when you should: to convey facts and data, and when no emotion or sensitive issues are involved.

In the past 12 months alone, I’ve seen e-mails misconstrued and misinterpreted too many times to count, and then management ends up having to devote extra time to damage control for issues that shouldn’t have been issues in the first place." - Jason Hiner is the Editor in Chief of TechRepublic.

This research is really important to keep in mind with regards to effective communications.

The distribution of information in a message that gets transferred is:
55% Visual
38% Tone
7% Words

Most of the message transferred is based on non-verbal cues. And as we know, these are easily misunderstood or misinterpreted. So communicating clearly and effectively means not only carefully using ones words, but also packaging ones words with effective visual and tonal effect. Moreover, as the research demonstrates, visualization is even more important (55%) than tone and words (45%).

Leaders have to be especially careful with their communications and always keep in mind that others can not only misread or mishear words, but also misinterpret non-verbal cues.

I think part of a good communications solution is to be consistent with one's overall message and to listen for confirmation of understanding from the other person.

We can't take for granted that what we mean is what is received on the other end.

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