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How much of communication is really nonverbal?

How much of communication is really nonverbal?

One of the most frequently quoted statistics on nonverbal communication is that 93% of all daily communication is nonverbal. Popular science magazines, students and media outlets frequently quote this specific number.

So where does the number come from? Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication. He found that 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through certain vocal elements, and 55% through nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc).  Subtracting the 7% for actual vocal content leaves one with the 93% statistic.

However, studying human behavior is a challenging task. The inherent flaws of social scientific research methodology combined with the incredible dynamic nature of human behavior make this specific quantification close to impossible.

The fact of the matter is that the exact number is irrelevant. Knowing that communication is specifically 75% nonverbal or 90% nonverbal holds no practical applications. The important part is that most communication is nonverbal. In fact, nonverbal behavior is the most crucial aspect of communication.

Based on my own research, I would state that the amount of communication that is nonverbal varies between 60 and 90% on a daily basis.  This number depends on both the situation and the individual.



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