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LEADERSHIP IS A PROCESS OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE, WHICH MAXIMISES THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF A SHARED GOAL.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Albert Mehrabian, a social scientist who worked at both UCLA and at MIT studied what elements of expression create credibility. In one of his books, Silent Messages: Implicit Communication of Emotions and Attitudes, he reported the results of a study in which business people were evaluated by listeners in three areas: the words they said, the tone of their voice (meaning they way they spoke -- pitch, volume, warmth, etc.), and their body language.
Surprisingly, the most important determinant of credibility was body language – how the speakers looked, whether they appeared confident, grounded and sure of themselves. The second most powerful determinant of credibility was tone of voice. Did the voice, for example, radiate confidence and clarity? The least important determinant of credibility was the actual words the speakers said.
Mehrabian's results bring to mind Emerson's aphorism that "What you do speaks so loudly, I can hardly hear what you say."
Mehrabian discovered that the words (content) accounted for only an amazing seven percent of the speaker's credibility. The voice – tone, pitch, etc. – accounted for 38 percent, and body language for an astounding 55 percent.
If you're not thinking of using every tool of expression at your command, you're probably falling far short as an effective communicator. In fact, you should be thinking about how you can use all those tools – words, voice, body, including what you might call "stagecraft" or "theatrics" – to communicate a coherent, powerful message.