The 7/38/55 Rule of Communication
Have you ever heard about the power of non-verbal communication? I’m sure you have, but fortunately I came upon some research that backs it up a little more. The study was conducted by Dr. Albert Mehranian at UCLA. Dr. Mehrabian founded the 7/38/55 rule, stating that 7% of our communication is in the words we say, 38% is in our tone and the way we say it, and 55% is in our body and our posture as we deliver it.
While the specifics are under contention, there’s one thing everyone agrees on, and it’s the idea of balance. It’s that all 3 of those elements are most definitely at play while communicating, and they need to all say the same message. In fact, when those messages are not consistent, you can know that there is an underlying disbelief or concern that isn’t being expressed.
This is where we as leaders and communicators need to be extra cognizant of everyone’s holistic communication so that we don’t get ahead of ourselves and draw conclusions too early in conversation. These incongruencies are often displayed as micro expressions.
A good method that is shared in the book, Never Split the Difference, by Chris Voss is to use the rule of 3. If someone is saying something, make them repeat their thought in a few different ways so that they have more opportunities to express themselves. 3 opportunities seems to be the magical number when it comes to disclosing truth.
Communication is about the words you say, the way you say it, and the belief your body has behind it.