7.9 Million Jobs Lost. Many Forever.* In The Job Market, Effective Communication Matters. But How Much Do You Really Know?

You’re probably familiar with the saying, ‘it’s not what you say but how you say it.’ With the job market still extremely weak, and reports from CNNMoney.com suggesting full-time jobs may be a thing of the past while part-time and freelance positions may be the job market of the future, what we say at work and how we communicate what we say may mean more than ever when it comes to maintaining a paycheck.

For those with a job, remember the millions who are still unemployed and have been unemployed, in many cases for 2 years or more. Unless there are illegal activities taking place where you work, this is not the time to whine or complain. But you may be communicating negatively without even saying a word.

Professor Albert Mehrabian is considered to have pioneered the understanding of communications since the 1960s. He earned a PhD from Clark University and began his teaching and research at The University of California, Los Angeles. Professor Mehrabian continues researching, writing and consulting at UCLA as Professor Emeritus of Psychology today.

Through his research, Professor Mehrabian breaks down the effectiveness of spoken communications as follows:

  • 7% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in the words that are spoken.
  • 38% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
  • 55% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in facial expression.*

If Professor Mehrabian’s statistical analysis of effective communication is true, what we say verbally carries far less weight than how we say the words we choose and more importantly what our visual cues are showing through our facial expressions and attitudes.

The study showcasing the importance of how we speak the words we choose and what attitude we give off when talking is not revolutionary. Any of us with children can enjoy a good dose of ineffective communication when our child talks back saying, ‘Okay. I’ll get it done.’ I can hear the different ways my sons can say this one simple phrase, giving completely different meanings each time.

But when you look at the statistical analysis, the gap between communicating through your feelings, attitudes and facial expressions (55%) over saying the words you chose (7%) is astonishing to say the least! It may demonstrate that the phrase, ‘choose your words wisely’ may be better expressed by saying, choose how you say and visually express the words you select wisely’ or simply, ‘think before you speak.’

Consider this example: Saying something but not looking directly into someone’s eyes or communicating a message through words but rolling your eyes may easily leave a negative perception regarding what you were trying to communicate. I’m sure you can think of many other examples that have happened to you or your fellow colleagues over the years.

Remember, each of us at work is often considered expendable. So, each time you speak, remember how much others are interpreting your message by your body language and facial cues. And don’t forget, the same applies to each time you don’t speak but are heard loud and clear in a meeting through your body language such as a look of boredom or exhaustion or lack of contribution all together.

*7.9 million jobs lost. many forever
mehrabian’s communication research*

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