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We Have To Talk

We Have To Talk
Written by
Jackie Walker

Did you know that there are more ways than words to communicate?

The words part of it really accounts for only about 7% of our communication.  That means that there’s an awful lot of communication going on without you having to speak!  Yes, it’s still enormously important to choose your words carefully and I’d like you to have a shot at the other 93% as well!

It won’t come as a surprise that a much larger proportion, a huge 38% of what we are communicating, comes through in our tone and the style of our voice.  So when you’re speaking say it as you want it to be heard, cut through the moaning whine, drop your voice a couple of octaves, slow it down.   Watch out for the nervous tremors, the jocularity, or the sarcastic tone.

That still leaves a staggering 55% of the message to be accounted for.   This remaining percentage is where most of us get it wrong and when learned can make the difference between getting your message heard and not just listened to.  The answer to the 55% is your physiology

Your eye movements are giving away clues as to what you are really thinking.  You’ve come across people who won’t meet your eye, who stare you out, who look all over the place – and there are even more subtle ways to determine if someone is being conservative with the truth or genuinely trying to remember what they did.  Folk who are looking down all the time are very in their emotions and could do with looking up more often.

How folk breath shows us a lot about their state – breathing deep and down to the stomach, or way up high and hardly reaching their chest.  Have you noticed on X-Factor, Stacey from Dagenham speaks very quickly and hardly has a chance to breath beyond her throat.  Yet when she sings, she has the deepest slowest breath.

The way you think determines your emotional state.  Your emotional state affects your physiology which in turn affects your state!  Oh what a circle, and it can be tricky to get your head round it, so here’s an example of what happened when I was working with a client recently.

She was telling me some of her story – she was sitting on a chair, leaning forwards, elbows on knees and head down.   Her tone of voice was flat and she couldn’t see a way out.

I asked her to come for a walk with me, and she stood up.  Her head was still down, her shoulders appeared rounded and there was a distinct lack of energy and purpose in her being.

I asked her to square her shoulders and stand upright and to look forward instead of down at the ground and we went for a walk.  During the walk, I asked her to remind me of what the problem was.  This time she used completely different words and she was much more animated.  During the walk we explored options.

I’m a pretty energetic, animated and positive person, so you might think it’s easy for me to do these things and it is – it took some training though!  Can you imagine if you were feeling low and depressed and you came to me and I just started talking to you by being very bubbly ?  It wouldn’t work would it?  So what I have to do first is get in rapport with my client – that means I have to match how they’re feeling for a while to make a good connection and then once I’ve done that I can start to help them get themselves out of their unhappy state.

To really be effective in communicating therefore you want to build up a picture of what you want to look like, be like and feel like before you start.  You want to make sure you’re on the same wavelength as the person to begin with.  You want to control your breathing, watch your tone and then speak.

Have you ever noticed that people say the same thing differently!  I’ll give you an example of when I want to make sure that someone understands what I’m saying:

  • Does that sound good to you?
  • Can you see that?
  • Does that feel right?
  • Do you understand?

Which of those four statements will you choose?

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