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Is it true only 7% of success is what you say?

Is it true only 7% of success is what you say?

October 17, 2013

When you speak, only 7% of what you’re conveying comes from your words. The rest comes from non-verbal communication.

Your non-verbal communication can make the difference between closing or losing a prospect, encouraging or exasperating an employee, or even soothing or upsetting a spouse.

Most people make these common mistakes, learn how to fix your non-verbal communication.

Don’t Just Say it, Show it!


Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”


Ready for something that is totally counter intuitive? Look at what Professor Albert Mehrabian discovered in his scientific approach:


  • 7% of the message pertains to the words that are spoken
  • 38% of the message pertains to how the words are spoken
  • 55% of the message pertains to facial expressions  

Whoa. Only 7% of our message is what we actually say. I had a hard time actually buying this, until I considered the following text and photo:


Text: An adorable baby peeks out from under the blanket.


Which one makes you smile, the text or the photo?

Yep. A picture is worth a thousand words.  Graphics, even inexpensive graphics, can convey your message quickly and effectively. According to studies by the Wharton School of Business and 3M Corporation, people not only pay closer attention, but have a more positive reaction when a message is presented with graphics.

Check out this truck. Go ahead. Look closely at it. It's awesome. The take away is that today, with full color digital printing, you can look like a rock star. Great graphics literally change our emotional states. 

Nonverbal Communication

If you want to persuade anybody of anything, you really want to master this. Nonverbal communication includes any part of the body used by a person to send a message to another person. That includes clothing, attitude and body movements, including facial expressions such as smiles.

One of our clients, Karen McMahon, is the founder of Journey Beyond Divorce.  She helps her clients during some of their darkest moments as they come to terms with divorce. To help them start thinking about the next stage in their lives, she always incorporates a smile. What's crazy about this is that psychologically, people always respond positively to a smile, even if it is just a twitch in the upper corners of the mouth. Really? Monkey see, monkey do? Karen adds that “just a gentle hand on one's arm, shoulder, or hand, communicates emotional warmth and opens people to you.”


Robbi Hershon and Debra Knapp, co-owners of The Hearing Group, also rely on nonverbal communication with their many patients who are 65 and older.




“We do a lot of listening with direct eye contact,” says Robbi, “and then we take the time to repeat what they say in a reassuring voice. Before every patient leaves, we make a point of touching them on their shoulder or arm.”  


Sometimes, nontraditional uses of nonverbal communication can make a difference.  Google, headquartered in Mountain View, CA, has colorful, open spaces showing the company’s image of transparency and a “friendly work environment.”  

Likewise, Mark Batson, owner of Tongue & Groove in Wilmington, NC, says “I build homes that are a reflection of my client's personality; they're all different.” For that reason, he lets them “experience” what it will be like by showing them similar projects and watching their reactions to those visits. He interprets their verbal and nonverbal reactions into their new home plans.

Bringing out the Inner You


Some people say what you wear says a lot about you. For the less fortunate, this can dramatically affect their ability to get a job, as many people cannot afford to buy a nice suit for a job interview and arriving at a business in jeans and a t-shirt can speak volumes. The 501(c)3, Dress for Success, aims to give economically disadvantaged women the ability to make a great first impression by providing each woman with a free suit (appropriate for the industry she wants to enter), and another suit if she obtains the job. Dress for Success gives these poor women a chance to dress to impress as they are being evaluated and scrutinized for employment.


Your nonverbal communication should convey an inner sense of “well being.” But how do you convey “well being” over the phone?

Two ways to improve your phone communications are by (1) standing and (2) smiling when you’re on the phone. An easy and interesting way to start is by putting a mirror on your desk. This helps remind you to put on your best smile while you’re talking. You really can hear a smile through the phone. Can't you tell if you are talking to somebody and they are "multi-tasking" and really present. Try standing while you’re on the phone, it gives you more energy and helps you exude confidence.

Putting It All Together


Consider these three key elements when you want to say a lot without actually saying anything: 


  1. Graphics can improve response rates
  2. Non-verbal communication improves your persuasiveness
  3. Improve your connection over the phone by standing and smiling

Want to learn how to quickly improve your persuasiveness once and for all? Simply hit reply or email me at jongoldman@brandlauncher.com.

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