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What you Say and How you Say It

Do you realize that you are communicating every minute of every day? Whether your gums are flapping or your lips are pursed in anger, you are always communicating something.

You may choose to communicate verbally, non-verbally or simply by making specific sounds like a grunt or a “tsk tsk,” but rest assured, you are definitely communicating. Let me give you some examples.

Verbally means you say something with the intention to instruct, inform, or advise which usually provokes a response from the listener. Non-verbal communication is anything but verbal like gestures, facial expressions or posture. Think about your close family and friends. Have you ever asked them “What’s wrong?” even though they didn’t say a word? That’s because you picked up on their non-verbal message which instinctively told you that they weren’t their usual selves.

Then we have auditory communication, a raised voice, a fast talker or even a mumbler. Depending on what we hear we associate meaning to that auditory message. For example, what is the perception that forms in your mind of a person you witness mumbling? Be honest. What about someone who talks way too fast. What are your impressions of them in relation to how they have chosen to communicate? As a society we tend to associate fast talkers as type-A personalities. We consider them as energetic people who are constantly on the move with a lot of information to dispense.

As far as mumblers go we tend to consider them as insecure or shy. What about someone who routinely speaks too loud? What does that say about the person and how they’ve chosen to communicate? I know it tells me that the person needs to get their hearing checked. The meanings we attach to the auditory message we hear (regardless of the words themselves) defines our perception of the person. Whether that meaning is right or wrong isn’t important. The impression has been created.

Pretty simple right? Think again. Despite the method we choose to communicate, there’s a little thing called congruency that trips us up every time. But before I explain how congruency does this, let me first explain the dynamics of communication. Briefly put, verbal, non-verbal and auditory communication is broken down as follows:

7 percent words

38 percent auditory

55 percent visual

Amazing isn’t it? Ninety-three percent of what we communicate on a constant basis has nothing to do with the actual words we say. And even more importantly, that 93 percent is more accurate in helping the listener discern the truth than the actual 7 percent of words spoken.

Heidi Crux