Updated: Jan 28
With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, wait… didn’t we JUST have Christmas and New Year’s? Yup we did!
Because of that, I want to give you some guidelines for making this one of your best! While it’s one of the more important Holidays – Beloved by multitudes, it’s also despised by as many. It’s THE DAY for proposals, and incurs as many break-ups. Why? Expectations, pressure and ineffective communication.
Communication is a basic life skill, as important as the skills by which you make your way through school or earn a living. Your ability to communicate largely determines your personal and professional happiness and success. When you communicate effectively you make and keep friends; convey how much you value your lover/mate; are valued and excel at work; are respected and trusted; get your needs met. If you are less effective, you find your life lacking or miserable in one or more essential areas.
“Connecting” is a word used in place of “Effective or Powerful Communication.” Connecting is not a game of winning your point then living happily ever after. It is a means of sharing/receiving information and making a difference in your relationships. It's a way of maintaining your integrity and nurturing your self-esteem. In the long run, connecting improves the quality of your life and the lives of those around you.
Studies over the past 45 years have shown that communication involves many factors. Only 7% is comprised of the spoken word and the remaining 93% is completely non-verbal. These factors occur simultaneously during normal conversation. However, sometimes people pay attention to only one of the elements, either the words, body language, voice, volume or tempo. Most, if not all, arguments, fights or break-ups happen because of this very issue!
How does it start? Unfortunately kids are constantly bombarded with double messages sent unknowingly by adults, so for survival, they learn to selectively pay attention to only one, possibly two, of the elements. This filtering system develops because they don’t have the sophistication to decipher communication innuendoes. They selected the safest and most easily understood style of communication to concentrate on, one that produced the most positive results, most of the time. For instance saying, ‘Of course that’s OK’, while shaking their head ‘No’, and a million other similar examples.
Even as adults, too often, this childhood pattern still operates and has become more sophisticated. Have you ever had ‘I’m F-I-N-E!!’ as an answer to your question, when you know darn well it’s NOT?
Because people are so busy, they don’t develop the awareness to synthesize all the elements necessary to understand the intended message. In order to be a loving, effective communicator, people must understand the principals of and utilize all the communication elements. The key point is - talking is NOT necessarily communicating.
7% of Communication are Only the Spoken Words
This percentage is only the actual words spoken. Often we interpret someone's meaning by their words alone. Think about texting vs. a phone call – it’s harder to interpret the exact meaning of some texts, or emails, because you have no ‘Emotional Input’ you get in person or through their voice. (Thank goodness for Emoji's - right??)
This part of communication doesn’t take into consideration any other factor, such as body language, tonality or volume, etc. This can cause a lot of problems, frustrations and misunderstandings. Often what someone says verbally is not actually what they are feeling or thinking. People hear the words, but something doesn’t seem right and they’re not sure what’s going on.
What’s actually happening is the other 93% is kicking in. This is “CrazyMaking.” The words spoken may be saying one thing, but the individual’s body language or tonality is saying something totally different.
When you’re engaged in a conversation such as this, STOP, trust what you’re feeling, ask for clarification about their real message to understand their intended meaning – BEFORE hurt feelings or an argument starts. Too many have broken-up over CrazyMaking conversations/actions!
38% is Volume, Tone and Tempo
This percentage of communication includes vocal volume, tone and tempo.
Volume refers to the level of loudness used during communication.
Tone is the pitch or depth of the voice.
Tempo is the speed at which the words are delivered.
For instance, when you hear someone raise their voice, (volume), it usually means they are excited, startled or angry. Someone who speeds up their speech, (tempo), is usually scared, excited or nervous. When someone raises their voice on certain words it means they are trying to emphasize an important point. Tonality changes when speaking to different people. Adults speak differently to small children than another adult, their tone elevates and they use simpler words. When speaking to their Lover, their tone usually softens and deepens. Notice how Mothers scold their children and how BFFs communicate. All of these typical communication examples have different tonalities, volume and tempo.
Here's a demonstration of how the different meanings are inferred by changes in tonality and emphasis.
Read the following statements emphasizing the bold words and notice the different meanings derived by each sentence.
I didn’t steal the money!
I didn’t STEAL the money!
I didn’t steal the MONEY!
This graphically demonstrates the different meanings derived by a simple shift in emphasis. People are exposed to this type of communication daily. The key is to always ask questions when uncertain. By knowing this, misunderstandings will be eliminated.
55% is Body Language and Facial Expression
The largest percentage of normal communication is Body Language; the movement of the body and the facial expressions. People learn to read body language and interpret their own meanings at a very early age and later it's based on their past experiences.
This segment of communication is most prone to Mind Reading and is subject to the greatest amount of misinterpretation and misunderstanding. For instance, when someone has their arms crossed, most people assume they are angry, closed or unavailable. The truth is they may just be cold. It is important to ask for clarification. What you see is not necessarily what you get. Ask questions!
We talk to others every day, however Effective Communication is not always the result. Understanding communication styles will benefit you in every area of your life.
With Valentine’s approaching, wouldn’t it be amazing to be in total sync with your current or new Lover and spend the time wrapped in Love rather than suffering through a silly misunderstanding? So get out there and enjoy real Connecting and see how much more satisfying your Life will be!
"Albert Mehrabian’s 7-38-55 Rule of Personal Communication"