It's Not What You Say

Although I have always believed this, I was still shocked to hear the following statistic at our first faculty meeting of the year.  When you communicate with another person, here is how they interpret your message:
Words: 7 %

Tone and inflections: 38 %

Body language: 55 %

It makes sense, really.  Our principal used this statistic as the basis for our new communication policy at school, and I think it's a good communication policy for just about anyone's school, business or life:
Words: this is e-mail and text messaging.  Since it's just words, it should be relegated to the simple relaying of information: "I'll meet you at 4 PM" or "Here's the outline for the next chapter."  The minute the exchange becomes more complex, it should move to a more personal level.

Tone and inflections: phone calls.  Most minor negotiations and problems can be resolved this way.  "Why did my daughter get a zero for this assignment?"  "How can I get my son to practice more regularly?" "Let's work out a time to get together."  There's something so much more personal about the sound of a spoken voice: it can nip a lot of misunderstandings in the bud.

Body language: face-to-face meetings.  For anything important, whether a job interview (yes, they do take place over the phone, but it's rare) or catching up with an old friend.  Taking the time to sit down with someone shows you care enough to give them your full attention.  This is how we run our classes, and it should be how we run our lives, too.

I take a lot of flack for staying away from Facebook and chat rooms and even my own cell phone, which I would prefer to be without.  But I take pride in knowing that I can give someone my full attention, my full presence, whether it's a client, student, or friend.  I was at a party this week where I saw a man find out his wife was pregnant via text.  Can you imagine?!  No, thank you.  I want my relationships real.