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The 55:37:8 communication rule

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Jul 16

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The role of communication in business and other facets of life cannot be overemphasised. The success or failure of a business largely depends on its communication strategy. This is reflected in the chunk of money invested to employ communication experts or managers and run advertisement and commercials, among others.

Communication is, however, not just a process of sending across information and receiving the results or feedback. It goes beyond that to the recipient’s efforts at interpreting what they have heard and responding based on, for instance, their cultural background, knowledge and education, perception, etc.

The communication process involves seven major elements: sender, ideas, encoding, communication channel, receiver, decoding and feedback, and all these elements are important.

Let’s look at these in relation to three significant components that contribute to the failure or otherwise of face-to-face communication: body language (55%), voice tone (37%) and words (8%).

Body language

During a face-to-face communication, be sure that participants involved are looking at your facial expressions, gestures and body language to understand what you’re saying.

The feedback you receive may contradict the idea or information you send across, and it may be due to how the recipient decoded your body language. Thus, it is highly recommended that you complement your choice of words with the right body language to send across the intended message.

Voice tone

The pitch of your voice, volume, and modulation say a lot. Your voice can reveal how fun, confident, informal, bossy, helpful, overbearing, or intelligent you are at a point in time.

You must endeavour to modulate your voice to suit the occasion and the information you’re giving out. Otherwise, the misinformation could be gross.


Notwithstanding that words contribute only 8% to the success of the communication process, it is worth considering. Choosing the right words help you transmit your information. It enhances the chances of getting your recipient to understand or misunderstand you.

Be mindful of your body language, voice tone and choice of words, and be sure to send across the intended message and to receive the expected feedback.

Posted by : Sharmila Gautama

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