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Sunday, February 26, 2017
Lesson 8 Reading Between the Lines
Content, Tone, Body Language
You've been given what might be the most versatile tool in your arsenal - labels (Lesson #4). In Lesson 5, you were given more insight on the application of this tool. Now in Lesson 8 we're going to delve even more into what to look for to label.
Person-to-person communication (while you're in each other's presence) is described as being carried by three means:
the content (the literal meaning of the words),
the tone of voice (this includes inflection, pacing, etc.)
and body language (how the person stands, the look on their face, how they placed their hands and arms, etc.).
There was a famous study by UCLA Professor Albert Mehrabian that came up with the ratio for these three components regarding how much the recipient of the communication "liked" the components, and that ratio was 7 - content, 38 - tone, 55 - body language. The meaning of this study has been widely interpreted, contested and debated.
Do they line up?
The Black Swan Group advocates that you look at this ratio for relative importance of differences in the communication. This means paying very close attention to tone of voice and body language so you can see how they match up with the literal meaning of the words. If they don't match, it is quite likely the literal meaning of the words is not the truth of the sender's message. By this ratio, tone of voice is five times more important than the literal meaning of the words. Body language even more (8x). How tone of voice and body language align with the literal meaning of the words is critical in understanding the meaning.
You can take the sentence "I think you're very smart", and change its meaning entirely based on which words you choose to emphasize, your inflection and the tone of voice you choose.
There is a great cartoon of two small children walking down the street talking and one says to the other "My mom says to me she hopes I have kids like me when I grow up, but I just don't like the way she says it."
Insight is Rewarded
Please keep in mind, that if their tone of voice signals hesitation, they know it. On one level or another they are well aware they have indicated this to you and are probably unsure as to how to come out and say whatever it is that doesn't quite line up. Your act of recognizing this and gently dealing with it via a label will be greatly appreciated by them. They will feel respected and consequently, your relationship of trust will be improved. They will be grateful for your insight.
This is interpretation process is a two-way street. The person you're communicating with will interpret you in much the same way, whether consciously or unconsciously. (Lesson 2).
Here's what you do with this knowledge: label tone of voice and label body language.
You: "So we're agreed?"
You: "I heard you say yes, but it seemed like there was some hesitation in your voice."
Them: "Oh, it's nothing really."
You: "No, this is important, let's make sure we get this right."
Them: "Thanks, I appreciate it."
This is the way you make sure your agreement get implemented with no surprises. Use the ratio of 7:38:55 as a guideline to line up what someone says with how they say it. When someone's tone of voice or body language are not congruent with the meaning of the words they say, use the communication tool of labels to dig in and discover the source of the incongruence.