There was a very interesting study completed by Dr. Ray Birdwhistle at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1970s. After many years experience in the field of communication, Dr. Birdwhistle initiated a study to determine how we as human beings communicate with each other.

At the end of his study Dr. Birdwhistle and his researchers concluded that only 7% of communication between people has to do with the actual content of the words that are being said. The remaining 93% of our communication comes from everything else we are doing while we are saying the words. “Everything else” here refers to the tempo, pitch, volume, and timbre of our voice, as well as our communication through our body language.

So this means interpersonal communication is more than just words. In fact effective inter-personal communication that develops rapport with other people is in fact more than 13 times that of just the words people communicate.

Based on Dr. Birdwhistle’s studies, the following table reveals the percentages of effective communication in each of the 3 types and examples of each:

% Communication Types Attributes
7% Words Questions, pacing and leading, responsive words and phrases
38% Vocals Tonality or tone, voice speed, voice loudness, voice quality (timbre), pausing between words/phases
55% Body Language Postures, signals, gestures, breathing and energy
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