Successful Communication

For the record, I am a male Baby Boomer. This fact influences how I communicate and my preferences for ways to receive communication. However, some things remain constant regardless of age or gender.

Meaningful communication is based upon three things: words, tone of voice and body language. According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, words account for 7 percent, tone of voice accounts for 38 percent, and body language accounts for 55 percent of meaningful communication. 

How does this apply to our current communication habits? Email and text use only words.Telephone uses words and tone of voice.Face-to-face and video use words, tone of voice and body language.

So how do we increase the probability of being successful in our communication? It depends upon your purpose. If your purpose is to share information, email and text suffice. Have you ever received an email that you misinterpreted? Was it poorly written so you couldn’t determine its meaning or intent? Have you, or others, overreacted to written communication? Have you made bad decisions based solely upon written communication?

If you insist on using email/text only to build your business relationships, you are increasing the probability of being misunderstood. Your intended audience is missing 93 percent of the total message, according to Dr. Mehrabian. Is it worth taking this much of a risk?

If your purpose is to build relationships, email, text, and any social medium do not work. Relationships require telephone or in-person communication. My company understands this communication challenge. We use all methods: email/text, telephone, and face-to-face. Our rule is to use email to summarize our conversations on the phone and in-person. We also use email to send information, knowing it will not build a relationship with its recipient.

Bottom line: if you want to communicate so you cannot possibly be misunderstood, decide what your purpose is first. If it’s simply to share information, email suffices. But if you want to build relationships, lead with telephone and face-to-face communication and summarize those conversations with email.

Bill Evans is president of Evans Glass Co. Write him at bevans@evansglasscompany.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors. 

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