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:
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.
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.
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.