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It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It!

Did you know that words, i.e. what you say, only make up 10% of how your message is received? Now don’t get me wrong, your message is vitally important, but if your words aren’t received in a manner that can be effectively understood, you’re wasting your time.


Truth is, communication is 90% pace, tone, volume, inflection and body language with a sub major in priority. Anybody, no, everybody who you will ever talk to is going to pay more attention to how you speak and your posture while you speak before they begin to care what you say. That is the reality of the human condition. They have no choice! You have no choice! We all exhibit specific core characteristics of behavior that determine how we prioritize communication. Therefore, when someone is exhibiting behavior that is inconsistent with our own, we won’t hear what they say, and they won’t hear what we say because you are not speaking to each other’s priorities.


That’s the complicated explanation. It is much simpler in theory although not necessarily so easy in practice.


Let me take you back around 2,400 years. That would be close to the first time there is evidence of someone identifying the characteristics of human behavior. That someone was Socrates. He identified the 4 most common behavioral patterns demonstrated by human beings and in the past couple millenniums the study of psychology has only served to reinforce his findings and evolve them.


Now, I only told you that, to tell you this. We all fall into one of those 4 quadrants of behavior. That means that, the majority of the time, you will demonstrate the core characteristics of your behavior and your style of communication and your understanding will be governed accordingly. YOU HAVE NO CHOICE! That means the majority of the people you deal with have different core characteristics than you. Even if you fall into the largest group, you are only consistent with 40% of the population, so your best-case scenario still has you at odds with more than every other person you will ever encounter.


Enough said, we can get deeper involved in future blogs but, for now, I want you to take away this message. If you want someone to take you seriously, to pay attention to your words, to understand and execute your message, you need to match your body language to theirs and speak in the pace and tone they use speaking to you. (If you’re on the phone, pace and tone are paramount!) You need to structure you message to match how they structure their message and questions to you. If they are laid back and ask a lot of detailed questions, then be laid back and give lots of details. If they are leaning forward and seem to be rushing through the headlines, then lean in and give them the headlines, and only the headlines. It’s called mirroring.


If you want to be effectively understood, deliver your message on their terms. Not only will you get the result you wanted from communicating with the individual, but you’ll also gain an increased measure of respect because they will think you’re so smart because you’re just like them.


You don’t have to become anybody other than who you are, but you need to understand your style and adapt it in the moment. That is the difference between being smart and being wise and the rewards for wisdom are immeasurable.

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