Words, Tone of Voice, and Body Language, Reconsidered
You’ve undoubtedly heard it claimed that the meaning of your message is communicated by:
- Your words — 7%
- Your tone of voice — 38%
- Your body language — 55%.
Well, don’t believe it.
Olivia Mitchell at Speaking about Presenting always has interesting and insightful things to say about presenting. She’s done a masterful job this week describing the research (performed by Albert Mehrabian in the 1960′s) that gives rise to that claim.
She’s also examined how the research has been misinterpreted and misapplied ever since. I couldn’t do justice to what she has written by summing it up, so please read for yourself her original post (be sure to check out the comments) and her follow-up post.
Max Atkinson, whose blog is also always worth reading, addresses the same study and rebuts its most common misinterpretations. See his comments on “Body Language and Non-Verbal Communication.”
Bert Decker offers his analysis, which differs from what both Olivia and Max write (and from what I believe). But it’s well worth reading.