Which meaning is the meaning? How are you heard?

Which meaning is the meaning? How are you heard?

Did you know that over 90% of what you say is communicated without saying a word?

Here we think about what we say, maybe what we type and how it reads when really . . . it is so little about that. It is really about tone and body language.

And now in our digital, more virtual world, we don’t even have a chance to have a tone (unless we use emoji’s) and no one can see our body language.

So, what do we do when someone reads our “tone” in their own voice when they have had a bad day? What does it sound like when someone has assigned us “not caring” versus “not understanding” when they read through a text or an email? 

Let’s start with understanding the 7-38-55 rule. I like to call it the 93 -7 rule to be crystal clear.

The 7-38-55 rule is a concept concerning the communication of emotions. The rule states that 7 percent of meaning is communicated through spoken word, 38 percent through tone of voice, and 55 percent through body language

So that means – 93% of someone’s perception of understanding us is based on qualities we all have a hard time communicating when we are NOT in person. And today, we have a lot of that. Today’s communication is requiring more of our senses and non-verbal communication to be in balance and “in check” than ever!

Nothing that you experience in your life, from the most important to the most mundane, would be possible without the intricate power of your senses. They can influence our behaviors, our thoughts, and our actions. But how much about them do you really know?

Effective communication comes from a deeper understanding of your own perceptions and the perceptions of others. 

For example, communicating value means different things to different people. I am continually reiterating the distinction between “expensive” and “valuable” with clients.  

I think it is human nature to assume that as price increases, the value must inherently increase as well. We know that is not always the case, but that it depends on how each individual perceives things differently. 

We must know how to communicate value to customers, clients and 

A great example of how the same words can be used and can mean two entirely different things is seen in the 3-year-old 30 second commercial from State Farm: 

“Is this my car? This is ridiculous. This can’t be happening.” Are you the guy that got car-jacked or the girl who just received a car as a present? These are two totally different situations – yet using the same words.

“Oh, it’s happening sweetheart.” this is said by the dad and the old guy on the corner. It can be adapted to be great or terrible. It depends on the situation and the intent of the reactions.  Same words – different experiences and meanings.

And then lastly is the last statement by both the girl who received a car for her birthday and the guy who got carjacked. What a day! We all know that is a loaded statement and can mean entirely too many things.

I hope you are laughing as much as we do every time we watch this!   

I love to use this example because we can take it even a step further in real life. Everything we say must travel through someone else’s mind to come to its true meaning. So any filters, preconceived notions, and or conclusions will taint or “color” those words similar to in this commercial. We all have a choice to hear the good or the bad. And sometimes, our choices are made based on our own experiences, not how the other person is saying it. 

The point is this; You can say the same thing, with the same words and two different people will hear those same words differently. One like the guy and the other like the young girl.   

Tonality, context, and body language are the true determiners of what is behind the meaning of these words. Imagine it was all in an email! 

To better bridge gaps -it is not about you. You must learn to understand their “situation” and everything that goes into how they hear you. Just like in the commercial, how the words were heard had everything to do with what was going individually for each of those people. Close your eyes and listen in again. Imagine you had not seen the ad first. What would you think then?

Remember this commercial and allow it to influence how you think of others and you will be communicating more effectively almost immediately! You will be saying; “I can’t believe this is happening!” and our answer will be: “It’s really happening sweetheart!” 

Your ability to sense and perceive the world around you is so richly detailed and accurate that no other animal, no expertly designed supercomputer—nothing in the entire universe of scientific exploration can even come close to matching the ability of your brain to use information sensed by you to produce a rich sensory experience in a matter of milliseconds.

Knowing how your senses work and the ways they shape how you see, interact with, and understand your life will help you think more critically about everything you sense and perceive! 

When you use your strengths of perception every day, you are six times more likely to be engaged on the job. You are happier and more productive too, both individually and in teams. You are more than three times as likely to say you have an excellent quality of life.

Once you have discovered your perception style and begin practicing what you learned there will be a next step. As human beings, we are complex individuals bringing many experiences with us in our lives. The more we learn about ourselves, the more we understand how to use our most beneficial tool, ourselves.  

Begin by observing you. Understanding you. And learn more about how you show up as a leader in this world, for those around you, and for yourself, most of all.



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