Bring Out The Inner You


Is it true that only 7 percent of success is what you say?

When you speak, only 7 percent of what you’re conveying comes from your words. The rest comes from nonverbal communication, which can make the difference between closing or losing a prospect, encouraging or exasperating an employee or even soothing or upsetting a spouse.

Albert Mehrabian, a former professor at the University of California, Los Angeles who is well known for his expertise on verbal and nonverbal messages, asserts:

* 7 percent of a message pertains to the words that are spoken.

* 38 percent of a message pertains to how the words are spoken.

* 55 percent of a message pertains to facial expressions.

If only 7 percent of our message is what we actually say, that could explain the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Indeed, graphics can convey your message quickly and effectively. According to studies by the Wharton School of Business and the 3M Corporation, people not only pay closer attention, but also have a more positive reaction when a message is presented with graphics.

If you want to be persuasive, you must master nonverbal communication, which includes clothing, attitude, body movements and facial expressions.

Karen McMahon, founder of Journey Beyond Divorce, helps clients during some of their darkest moments. She always incorporates a smile; psychologically, people always respond positively to a smile, even if it is just a twitch in the upper corners of the mouth.

McMahon noted that “just a gentle hand on one’s arm, shoulder or hand communicates emotional warmth and opens people to you.”

Robbi Hershon and Debra Knapp, co-owners of The Hearing Group, also rely on nonverbal communication with many of their senior patients.

“We do a lot of listening with direct eye contact,” said Hershon, “and then we take the time to repeat what they say in a reassuring voice. Before every patient leaves, we make a point of touching them on their shoulder or arm.”

How do you bring out the inner you?

Some say what you wear says a lot about you. For the less fortunate, this can dramatically affect their ability to get a job. The nonprofit Dress for Success aims to give economically disadvantaged women the ability to make a great first impression by providing each woman with a free suit (appropriate for the industry she wants to enter) for a job interview and another suit if she obtains the job. Dress for Success gives these women a chance to dress to impress, because when they are being evaluated for employment clothing can matter.

Your nonverbal communication should convey an inner sense of well-being.

How do you convey this over the phone? Two ways to improve your phone communications are standing and smiling when you’re on the phone.

An easy way to start is by putting a mirror on your desk to remind you to put on your best smile while you’re talking. You really can hear a smile through the phone. Try standing while you’re on the phone too; it gives you more energy and helps you exude confidence.

Remember, it’s not just what you say; how you say it, what you wear when saying it, your body language and visual images all add up to make an impact that accompanies your written messages.

Jon Goldman is president of Brand Launcher and a board member of Jewish Entrepreneurial Trust (JET). To learn more about JET or to get involved, contact

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