Do You Know What Happens When Your Tone & Your Words are Not Aligned?

Effective communication is important in a healthy loving relationship and to be effective in your communication means being congruent in all aspects of how you speak…

Young couple not hearing one another- woman with fingers in her ear, man yelling at her

Image by artur84 courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

Congruent between the message you’re sending, the words you’re choosing and your tone.

Ever witnessed an exchange between two people where there seemed to be a mismatch between the words uttered and the tone used? That that someone was mouthing let’s say sweet words but through clenched teeth and in an angry tone?

Perhaps you’ve done it yourself… Saying that they’re not angry with your loved one but your tone and body language belies the words you’ve uttered…

Or perhaps you’ve been the recipient of a message where the words and tone used seemed to be in conflict with one another. Do you recall what you thought then… and where your attention went?

Was it on the verbal message? The words being used… Or was the message you received swamped by the tone used?

Tonal Value
Did you know that your brain is attuned to the tone of the voice rather than to the actual words being uttered? Which means that your brain hears the tone of a message sent before registering the words uttered. Yes, that’s right… before you hear and interpret the spoken words your brain has responded to the message conveyed by the tone adopted.

Studies show that when the tone doesn’t match the spoken words… the message intended by the words is rarely heard. It’s the tonal message that is received… irrespective of the words that have been used.

That’s how important it is to be congruent in your messaging…

Communication Congruency
Professor Albert Mehrabian at the time of writing, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA is known for his pioneering work in the field of nonverbal communication (body language).

His theoretical work and experiments have helped to identify the nonverbal and subtle ways in which inconsistencies in communication patterns are conveyed, and the importance of being congruent when you communicate with someone.

His studies highlight the relative importance of our verbal and nonverbal messages, and the importance for consistency in messaging, especially when conveying messages of feelings and perceptions. His studies reveal that:-

  • Your words account for only 7% of the message received
  • The tone of your voice accounts for 38% – and your body language accounts for the rest
  • So your body language plays the major role.

Your body language accounts for 55% of the message!

So for effective and meaningful communication, all three parts of the message need to be congruent… need to support each another! And especially so when you’re communicating about how you feel… your emotions.

Being “congruent” is critical…

If your message is not congruent, the receiver picks up mixed messages… Is likely to feel confused… which may lead to them feeling annoyed or irritated. Not a good recipe for effective communication.

Clear the Clutter & Ambiguity
Let’s face it…Isn’t your world busy enough? Do you really need any more interference in the way you communicate and send messages? Consider how frustrating it is when a music channel you switch to phases in and out…Or your skype conversation inexplicably falls out at a critical moment.

Annoying isn’t it? Suddenly you have no control over the clarity or consistency of the message being relayed.

The Importance of the Visual
By way of default your brain focuses on the visual and fills in the missing gaps… Irrespective of what else is being heard or experienced…

So make sure that your message is being communicated clearly… Keeping your words, tone and body language congruent with one another!

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