Yesterday, my daughter and I were on a mission to get all my shopping done in one night. We were in the dressing room of a popular clothing store when I heard a woman speaking quite rudely to a man. He said a few things back, but she was relentless. Eventually, they came out of the dressing room and I quickly realized they were husband and wife. She was talking down to him in such a way that I was uncomfortable just being there. It made me think about how we talk to one another – whether in public or at home.
Most of us have come across the statistics that the strength of interpersonal communication is divided as follows: 55% body language, 38% tone of voice and 7% words. Communication specialists believe that our body language has more impact and speaks louder than our words. I don’t believe it. To me, words are as powerful (if not more) than body language and tone of voice.
I think words have staying power. Think about your last serious conflict with someone. What makes a deeper impression on you? What can you remember? Most of us remember the words. That’s what tags our emotions. I suppose at the initial stage of any relationship, non-verbal language has more strength than the words and the art of eye contact can be much more powerful than words. But, once you know someone, words will prove to be a formidable foe to both body language and tone of voice.
Look, I remember the words, “I love you” over someone’s body language. Or, important statements by my grandparents or mother before they died. Don’t you agree?
This is precisely why text messages and emails are often very divisive. When we read messages, we often pull the negative out rather than the positive. Or why self-help books tell us that when we’re angry, we should write a letter expressing our feelings (and thus venting our anger) but not sending the letter or talking (yelling) at the person when we’re angry (note to self there!).
This doesn’t mean that we should listen to words, rather than actions. I’m living proof that the words someone tells you mean Jack S&*% when the actions are completely different. But, that’s for another blog post!
So, I wish that wife would have been encouraging to her husband on his clothing choices rather than yelling at him about how “stupid” his clothes looked. Words have such a lasting effect (likely longer than their marriage may last) and I would suggest that during this holiday season, we try to use positive words, loving statements and lots of hugs (I think hugs are like words!). Try it and I’m positive that’s what you’ll end up remembering about this holiday season!
Have a fantastic day!