And to be fair, there was a time I shared it too.
“7% of communication comes from words,
38% from your tone of voice, and
55% comes from body language”
This is one of the most quoted “truths” by people making a point about the effectiveness of communication.
But it’s wrong.
The “Mehrabian Myth” is quoted SO often, and it somehow seems SO right, but Dr. Albert Mehrabian himself is on record saying that this has been taken out of context and shouldn’t be used like it is.
In the last month I’ve seen and heard it by a blogger for respected company and a professional speaker who teaches communication skills. In the case of the latter, two people at the conference table I was at turned and whispered, “But that’s not right.”
I felt bad for the speaker. It’s a blow to credibility.
What I’d hope is that YOU aren’t the person that the crowd is whispering about. Obviously this doesn’t mean non-verbal communication is not important…but we just shouldn’t be quoting these numbers this way.
Don’t take my word for it.
- Listen to it in Dr. Mehrabian’s own words on this radio interview (right click to download)
- Watch this fun video
- Read Olivia Mitchell’s excellent analysis (she’s a rockstar, BTW, and you should read her blog, too)