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I currently hold the %s of communication during Face to Face contact at Body Language 55%, Tone 38% and Words 7%. Does anyone have what these percentages become when you are communicating over the phone and body language is reduced?
Emma Crandon

7 Responses

  1. 80/20
    Hi Emma

    I’ve always used 80% TOV and 20% words but I’ve no idea if they are accurate. I was told them by the person who originally told me about the 55/38/7


  2. Communication
    The original Figures refer back to a study carried out by Albert Mehrabian in 1971, they were only part of his theory and are often used out of context, and they cannot be used as a definitive statement of fact.
    55% – 38% – 7% is fine as a guideline for face to face conversation, over the phone this would change to around 65% – 35% as we remove Body Language.
    It is good to remember that Mehrabian’s original study was based around the expression of feelings or attitudes. This makes the figures only accurate when stating whether something is liked or disliked.

    Jon Scoular
    Lead Trainer

  3. It’s impossible to say
    Since it is possible (and quite normal in some cases) to sound on the telephone happy when you’re angry, interested when you’re not and full of enthusiasm when you are bored brainless, I would say that it is impossible to ‘read’ anything other than the words of the person you are speaking to. Tone of voice is the most important thing but as they say “if you can fake sincerity then you have it made.”

  4. %’s are wrong
    55%, 38% 7% is an urban myth as the link in Derek Hughes comment shows.

    In presentation training courses that I run, I show that the visual, vocal and verbal aspects of your presentation have to be in-sync. Otherwise your audience realise you are not being totally honest. The same goes for telephone conversations, which is why tele-sales people are told to smile down the phone, and stand up to add more emphasis to what they are saying.

    Just because someone can’t see your body language doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect how your conversation is heard.

    Putting % ‘s on the different parts of a communication is always very arbitary, it is better to concentrate on the overall effect.

  5. Figures

    I haven’t used these for sometime, however here they are for you.

    Words – 16
    Tone – 82
    BL – 2

    I have seen these figures quoted all around the country in call centre environments, whether that adds any creditibility is debatable.

  6. The figures are as follows


    The figures for voice only communication are as follows:-


    Body Language 8%


    Voice Tone 76%


    Words Used 16%


    These are the figures I was provided with several years ago when working for another company. If you listen to examples of "difficult" phone conversations you will notice that a person’s reaction to what is being said is almost instant, and voice only communications can deteriate very quickly.


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