Your Leadership Congruency: Communication Skills

Are your actions congruent with your words?

Have you ever heard the phrase: Communication is only 10% verbal and 90% non-verbal?

It's a lie. Kind of...

This now infamous (and oft misunderstood) adage is based on two 1960s studies by Albert Mehrabian; (1) where it was found that the tone of voice had more impact than the actual word(s) spoken; (2) where participants were asked to guess the emotions heard in an audio recording and then listen to it again with an accompanying image of a person displaying an emotion. The study found that the literal spoken word accounted for 7% of how the message was received, the tone of voice accounted for 38%, and body-language for 55%. This was referred to as the 7%-38%-55% Rule, and it is still worth remembering!

For the sake of this brief, we will focus on verbal language, including tone, as verbal language accounts for 45% of all communication.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Do you want to know how you sound when you address behaviour or communicate in general? Here's a simple solution: record yourself! Self-awareness and reflection are good things, and by recording yourself (or asking for constructive feedback) you will develop responses that work better for both you and your colleagues.

By seeking objective feedback you will find the answers to these questions. If you cannot record yourself, ask two or three trusted sources for an honest opinion.

Why verbal prompts are problematic

Although verbal language is often important for communicating a message, it is still difficult to remove as a prompt because, for most of us, it is the most natural form of addressing workplace issues. Without an awareness of our communication style or how we use words, much of what we say could be wasted effort. We are creatures of habit, and some habits are hard to change.

But some things are worth changing for.