Watch What You Say When You’re Not Talking


Did you know that non-verbal communication can account for up to 93% of what we “say?”


According to the research of Albert Mehrabian:

  • 7% of meaning in the words that are spoken.
  • 38% of meaning is paralinguistic (way the words are said).
  • 55% of meaning is in facial expression

Amazing! Our words may be minor when it comes to what we actually “say.”

A favorite teaching point of mine surrounds the premise that we are always talking even when our mouths are not moving. Especially with our tweens and teens, this warrants some thought.

Here’s a conversation  that may take place with the children in your house:

“Stop the attitude!”

“What attitude Mom? I SAID I was ‘sorry’!” Picture hands on hips or crossed over chest, perhaps an eye roll or two.

“Apologize to your sister with sincerity.”

“I did!”

…..and so it ensues. Sound familiar?

How about this one:

Excuse me. Said kindly when you are trying to squeeze by someone at the movies.

EXCUSE ME!! Screamed loudly and belligerently when your teenager has just told you he wishes to use the money you have saved for his college to travel across the country with the Ringling Brothers.

Excuuuusssse me…..Spoken with sarcasm by you after being corrected by same teenage son when he informs you that you don’t know the words to his favorite song and you really shouldn’t attempt to sing. Ever.

Same two words. Three significantly different meanings.

Ever been in a situation where the person with whom you were communicating says one thing, but means another?  And you know it. The words are accurate, but it’s just how it was said. You know – it wasn’t WHAT she said, it was HOW she said it.  93% . 93%. 93%.

Non-verbal communication  is critical to the message we send. All the time.

As you go about your days at work, in meetings, interacting with friends and family, think about what you are REALLY saying – not your words, but with your body language, your eyes, your smile (or lack thereof) and your tone of voice.

Mind Your Manners,



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