The Three V’s of Effective Communication

Today’s entry was inspired by, of all things, a work course from a few days ago. During said course, I was introduced to a new concept around the subject of communication skills:

The Three V’s of Effective Communication


Or in other words, body-language. This is the gestures you make when you speak; the way you might unconsciously place a hand on your heart when you say you’re sorry, or twirl your hair or play with a piece of jewellery if you’re nervous. It’s your posture – are you slouched, or sitting/standing tall? Are you leaning towards or away from the person you’re talking to? It’s your facial expressions, eye contact or a lack of it. Your emotions leak out through your body language, even if you don’t say a word.

I often say that I sometimes feel as though Nomad can read my mind…. but a lot of the time it might be more accurate to say that he can read my body, and infer from that exactly what is going on in my head.


The tone you use. Ever heard the expression “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it?” This is exactly what that well-used phrase is referring to. If you want to be calming, gentle or loving, you naturally speak more softly and slowly. If you’re angry, you raise your voice or shout. There’s a certain tone of voice that makes me want to run and hide, regardless of the actual words. (That said, there’s also a tone which can make me weak in the knees in a moment… Nomad knows the one! *mischievous grin.*)

Your tone when you speak will often betray how you’re really feeling. It will give away when you’re angry, upset, afraid, or really, really happy. It will give you away when you say you’re “okay” or “fine” when you’re very much not.


Finally, the actual words you say. Did you know that there is a theory which suggests that the actual words you say make up a mere 7% of what the other person you’re speaking to perceives?

According to this theory, Visual (body-language) has about 55% of the total impact on your communication, and tone 38%.

Food for thought.

Some final thoughts to take away from this:

  1. This brings to light in a whole new way one of the reasons why DIRECT communication is so important. Think about it: if someone is playing the middle-man (say, the shared partner in a poly Vee, for example,) even if they relay perfectly word for word what was said between one person and another, so much of the intended message will be lost, as the person receiving the message will not have the benefit of the tone and body-language which went along with it.

  2. It’s often useful to get someone to repeat back to you what they’ve understood by what you have said. It is amazing how often what somebody hears and what you think you said are not the same.

  3. Face-to-face IS, in fact, the preferable choice (over phone, email, text, etc) for important communication when it is available as an option.

What are your favourite theories of effective communication?

In other news, I’m off to BiCon after work tomorrow! I might do an event write-up post when I get back.

8 thoughts on “The Three V’s of Effective Communication

  1. mienaikage says:

    This is part of the reason why I use so many smileys when typing online:)

  2. mienaikage says:

    This is part of the reason why I use so many smileys online, I find it quite difficult to convey my mood without them!

  3. kerran says:

    I’m a strong believer in that theory. Tone of voice and body language are much more informative than the words people say.

    It’s also been used to explain why so many discussions on internet forums end up in arguments and flame wars. If you strip out most of the supporting tone and body language then it’s really easy for people to take things the wrong way.

  4. Dragonmamma says:

    How odd then, that while most of us do actually know this, we so often ignore it.
    Could it be that we really want the filter of our friends’ views or the relative impersonality of phone/internet to keep things at arms length a lot of the time?
    Just asking!!

  5. Kai says:

    From a neuro perspective: My surroundings are often troublesome to my brain; busy or crowded rooms or background noise can make it difficult to concentrate and sometimes freak me out a bit. So often (depends on how I’m feeling) I prefer real-time typed communication such as MSN because I find it easier to hone in on and block out everything else; it’s easier for me to focus on typing than talking with my face, and being able to read what someone has said means I’m more likely to get more of the words. The stress of trying to deal with the non-screen world (or even just the awareness that my listener is looking at me) is often enough to get in the way of effective communication, or at least to make it a lot more difficult.

  6. Heya this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or
    if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  7. Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post!
    It is the little changes which will make the most significant
    changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  8. Having read this I believed it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to
    put this information together. I once again find myself spending a
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