Non-Verbal Communication in Social Media

Non-Verbal Communication  93% / 7%

Social Psychologists generally subscribe to the theory that “93% of interpersonal communication is non-verbal, and only 7 % is content.” Geoff Snyder’s leadership blog describes the components well:
Almost every facet of our personality is revealed through our appearance, our body language, our gestures, our facials expressions, our overall demeanor, and our posture and movements.  

It can include your attire, tone of voice, clearing your throat, rubbing your eyes, crossing your arms, tapping your toes, scratching your nose. Eye contact, or lack thereof, gestures, crossed legs, open arms, and the scent we transmit are all forms of non-verbal communication. Through your choice of clothing, hairstyle, glasses, accessories, and makeup if applicable, your appearance also communicates a strong message.

The theory derives from the work of Albert Mehrabian, a Professor at U.C.L.A.  Based on his research, his book, Nonverbal Communication, was published in 1972, and the concept has been quoted millions of times since.
Although one might question the exact percentages, I think we could all agree that many important messages are sent by nonverbal cues like eye contact, smiling, attentive listening, body posture and motions, and laughing at jokes. Hugs and sexual intimacy strengthen the emotional bonds of a relationship. People buy your “music” more than your words. Body language speaks volumes!

Interpersonal “Chemistry”

Interpersonal perception and “chemistry” are mostly unconscious and based on subtle natural cues, like tone and “warmth” of voice, a real handshake, pupil dilation, and even biological hormonal fragrances called pheromones.  No matter how hard the perfume manufacturers try, it is hard to fake interpersonal chemistry. We unconsciously form a persistent “first impression” during the first few minutes of meeting a new person.
These nonverbal factors present a big challenge for those of us who want to use social media to communicate. Not to mention the phenomenon of computers “talking” to each other with automated social media! The $64,000. question is, How can we send and receive nonverbal messages in a verbal environment?”

I will address this question in depth on this blog. The answer is not simple or easy, but I accept the challenge with excitement, because I love the leverage and efficiency of social media. Of course, what we really want to accomplish is effectiveness, as well as efficiency.

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