Communication: How much weight our words really hold

Effective communication is a cornerstone of good leadership. It serves as the glue that holds a team together and is the key factor in any strategy’s success. But it is not easy. Often our words are misinterpreted, and our communication style does not seem to be effective. Why is this?

This blog will explore how much weight our words really hold, the link between power poses and our self-perception, and how you could improve your non-verbal communication.

Mehrabian (1971) conducted research to analyse the importance of body language when communicating emotions and how body language contributes to how likeable someone is. Mehrabian argued that nonverbal communication is inseparable from our feelings and emotions and that humans unconsciously reveal these things through several types of nonverbal communication, like facial expressions, eye contact, and vocal tone. They reported that only 7% of a message is conveyed through words, while 38% is communicated through tone of voice, and 55% through body language.

Importantly, when words do not align with tone and body language, the listener is more likely to trust the non-verbal cues over the verbal content. When you are giving feedback or trying to communicate with your colleagues, it is easy to focus on what to say rather than how it’s said. If your words do not match your body language, this misalignment can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication.

What does your body language and tone of voice say? How can this be improved?

Amy Cuddy’s (2015) work extends this understanding by exploring how our body language not only communicates with others but also influences our own self-perception. Her concept of “power poses” suggests that adopting expansive postures can increase feelings of confidence and presence, which can significantly enhance your impact.

See Cuddy’s TedTalk for more information:

Try adopting Cuddy’s power pose into your day and see how changing your body language can convey confidence and openness. Not only have these poses been reported to reduce stress before critical interactions, but they also help to build an aura of approachability and trustworthiness, both useful when you want to communicate effectively with your colleagues and employees.

Communication is more than what you say, and it is easy to communicate ineffectively. But importantly, communication is a skill that can be analysed, adapted, and improved.

Reference List

Cuddy, A.J.C., 2015. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.

Mehrabian, A., 1971. Silent Messages.

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