I don't know where to start.
This morning as I was doing my part to mass immunize-- (outdoor breakfast with friends in Winter Park) we were discussing how texting was a difficult medium in which to communicate accurately and effectively.
Then this blockbuster statement was made: 90% of all communication is non-verbal.
I was floored. I was trying to remember if I had heard that statement before...
And then everything became very clear to me.
Before I get to a conclusion, let me quote the findings from a study on which that statement was made.
Professor Mehrabian combined the statistical results of the two studies and came up with the now famous—and famously misused—rule that communication is only 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal. The non-verbal component was made up of body language (55 percent) and tone of voice (38 percent). They assigned only 7 percent of their credibility assessment to the salesperson's actual words. (my italics)
This 1967 study has been more or less debunked, as obviously the content of our speech is lasting and more important than inflections, etc. However, there is something very very important that has been edited out of our day to day living that may be hurting our business, society, social and individual welfare.
A huge storm of pondering started swirling in my head.
How about this: all the greatest literature was written by hand. Not on a typewriter, not on a computer
All the greatest buildings on the planet, before the mid-80s, were created by hand on paper, not with computers.
All the greatest music composed to date (ha) was written by quill on paper, not on a computer.
Which brings us to effective communications...
I actually LOVE someone who calls me on the phone. Why? I can hear their inflections measure their pauses, I can SEE them smiling, I can sense hesitation. Their tone indicates whether they are busy, happy or whether there is a problem. Their haste conveys their interest in the conversation. Is this a perfunctory chat or is it something more meaningful? You can tell if someone is lying or telling the truth. You can sense anxiety.
Before the telephone, there were newspapers and in order to conduct any business at all, if you wanted to communicate emotion or facts you either wrote letters by hand or had a face to face conversation.
As human beings, we have been genetically coded to operate face to face. This is a 3,000-year-old tradition. We can see, smell and listen, even feel that person in front of us. We notice if they are limping or standing tall. We can see if they are well kept or not. They can be passive or wildly gesticulating. They can be loud or quiet. (an exclamation mark can mean many things on paper) Their eyes speak volumes. They can bat their eyelids incessantly or stay languid. They can make furtive glances. They can beam with happiness or tear with sadness. Their mouth indicates wonder, satisfaction, interest, outrage. They make gestures with their hands, their head, their entire torso in fact. And if they are panicked they will perspire, they will emit odors. Or they may be perfectly calm and still in their demeanor. How do you figure any of this via text? And yet this is where we are basing our futures, our loves, our business dealings, our dreams, and hopes? A digital shorthand that we just want to get over with.
This entire evolutionary process has been completely cut off with an over-reliance on digital communication, starting with telephones in fact which led us to imagine what that person on the other end truly was thinking and saying.
Because of this short stop type of communication, we are missing huge swaths of truth and intent; subversion is easier.
Did you know texting was a machine-based program that accidentally made it to cell phones?
If you text more than email, more than talk on the phone, more than converse face to face, then you may be giving others the wrong impression and you may be also receiving abbreviated content.
At one time I conceded that this was a good idea. For those whom you didn't wish to spend more than a minute to send a message, texting was good.
Now we are using this most basic and condensed form of communication to work up deals, assure clients, follow up with information, even ask for payment, make demands, etc.
I don't think email is much better. It does allow you to think more about what you write and edit your meaning before sending. How often have you wished in either medium you hadn't clicked the send button? How many illegible or grammatically incorrect messages have been beaten out? Apologies?
Emojis: You realize that these HAD to be introduced in order for people to convey the approximate emotion in the content of their shorthand, in order to reduce potential unintended messaging. There are now thousands of emojis for text and email.
We have subterfuged our humanity in favor of quick clicking on an inanimate gadget in order to get a basic point across. No more, no less.
Can you sense or convey ANY measure of empathy while your fingers do the walking?
And right now we are clawing away at each other using digital means to flatten the competitive curve...