Communication; what matters most!

Communication; what matters most!

Communication – what do you think matters most in your conversations with communicationothers? Are  your words clear? Is your tone authentic? What about body language? Do you show you like them? Yes, it all matters. But what is the balance between these different elements?

Are you like me? Have you spent many happy hours at seminars and training courses where the 3V (Verbal, Vocal, Visual) rule was quoted. And, you were told that words count for 10% or less of any face to face conversation! Well, guess what, that isn’t always true! No, it isn’t even what the 3V rule actually says!

The rule is based on the work of Professor Albert Mehrabian who carried out two studies in the 1960s.  Those studies were about feelings and communicating emotion. He found that our liking for the person who was communicating their feelings to us consisted of 7% Verbal Liking , 36% Vocal Liking and 55% Facial (Visual) Liking. In other words, if you want someone to like you then make sure your words are consistent with your tone, keep your eye contact but make sure your smile.

7% Verbal, 36% Vocal and 55% Visual was such a simple concept. And, it was so easy to articulate. That meant it drifted into communications’ theology and became received wisdom!

In reality, other studies have been quite inconsistent!  And the balance between the 3Vs varies in context.  For example, it is fairly obvious that if you are giving a lecture on a technical subject your words, and the precise way you use them, becomes rather more important than whether you smile.

Communication; but smiling does help!

All communication is a two-way process and people are more likely to listen to you if they like you!

So, if you want to get your message across, you can’t ignore Professor Mehrabian’s work on conveying genuine emotion and his 3Vs.

In one to one encounters, show genuine interest in the other person and listen closely to what they say. Smile, be warm, enthusiastic and responsive. And show you care about your subject, nothing is more attractive! But don’t overwhelm them and don’t fake it!

Find something to like in your audience!  So, work on finding out about them. If you work hard enough, you are very likely to find something to like.

Professor Mehrabian’s findings may not be what we first thought they were. But they are still enormously valuable. You can find his website at this link.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link



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