Communication Isn’t All Verbal

If you’ve ever watched the movie Hitch, you’ll remember the quote,

“60% of all human communication is nonverbal, body language; 30% is your tone. So that means that 90% of what you’re saying ain’t coming out of your mouth.”

And Hitch had it right, for the most part.

Psychologists believe communication can be broken into the following categories:

  • 55% is body language, 
  • 38% is the tone of your voice and,
  • a mere 7% are the words that come out of your mouth.

This means that most of what you’re saying isn’t coming out of your mouth.

This also means that your digital communication can easily be misunderstood.

You must use care and discretion when you use dry humour in digital communication because it often comes across as nasty sarcasm.

So if what you’re saying isn’t all verbal, what you are saying and how are you saying it?

One category of non-verbal communication is the tone of your voice.

You know when the person you’re talking with isn’t quite as authentic as they would have you believe.

Their tone of voice is more sarcastic or derogatory than authentic and transparent.

Nonverbal communication is more difficult to pin down.

In other words, it is more subjective than objective.

The other person may not even recognise that the tone of their voice changed or that you interpreted it differently than they say they meant it.

Another category of nonverbal communication is body language.

Although often done without conscious knowledge, the movements are more objective than the tone of voice.

Eye contact is part of your nonverbal communication and often will reveal whether a person is lying, evasive or uncomfortable.

Reading these signals is not difficult but requires that you stay cognizant of the situation and read them during the conversation.

When a person folds their arms it means they are feeling closed off and unwilling to communicate any longer.

What they say after this may not be a true reflection of their feelings and it might be better to cut the conversation and pick it up again later.

Note: Folded arms could also just mean they are contemplating what’s being said or they’re simply more comfortable. Interpreting body language is an art, and you should use caution and common sense.

Lack of eye contact can mean a number of different things.

They may not be interested in what you’re saying.

They may be lying or ashamed of what they are saying.

They could be shy and unable to meet your eyes.

Or they may find it difficult to talk about this subject and it’s easier when they aren’t looking directly into your eyes.

It could also just be a cultural thing.

If their tone gets louder over time it may mean that they are passionate about the subject or are getting more aggressive.

They may be very emotionally involved in the topic or might feel like they are not being heard.

While you’re watching what your partner is saying through their nonverbal communication, it’s important that you watch your own nonverbal signals, because your partner is reading you as well.

Keep your body in a neutral position with your arms down and relaxed, body pointed toward your partner and meeting their eyes without defiance.

These subtle body language signals can help to de-escalate a conversation and help keep control.

It can also go a long way in communicating that you are absolutely present and fully engaged in the conversation.

This is oftentimes more important than the words coming out of your mouth.

I hope you found the somewhat helpful.