Why you only communicate with your spouse 7% of the time

“That’s not what I meant!” Ever said that to your wife (or husband) before? Like, have you said that twice today? Even the best intentioned of words sometimes come out sideways in a sentence. Or on Monday’s, they come out in Greek.

Withstanding the test of time for marriages around the world is the phrase: “You are not listening to me!” Which prompts you to think to yourself, “I heard every word that just came out of your mouth AND I can repeat it back to you”. Yet the communication still isn’t in the same zip code of what either person intended.

How can loving family members not hear, or say, what is actually going on behind their ears or mouths?

One answer is in a guy named Albert Mehrabian. Mehrabian published a book, Silent Messages, in 1971 in which he talks about his research on non-verbal communication.  

His book was based on salesmen and their prospects, but it’s applicable across all arenas, including work, love and marriage. He concluded that when a salesperson was communicating with a prospect, the prospect based their assessments of credibility on factors other than the actual word the salesperson spoke.

What Mehrabian further detailed was what the intended future client actually held onto was vastly different than what was being communicated – sound familiar? In fact 55% of what people heard was based on the speaker’s body language! True story! Then another 38% of people responded and made decisions based on the speaker’s tone and “music” in their voice.

In the end, this means that people only hear and interpret 7% of what was intended via actual spoken words. So you are telling me there’s a chance!

Yeah, a 93% chance you could be on a pedestal talking to your wife with EPIC life changing content – or so you think. Yet they only “hear” that you are moving your hands too much as you are talking about work when those hands could be doing the dishes. Are you demonstrating that you are not listening by not making direct eye contact or tapping your foot while your husband is talking?

Why does it matter?

It matters because we are all in fact in a sales industry or some type. Stay at home moms? Always trying to sell the kids on eating their greens. The engineer? Always trying to sell your project or the validity of your work to the boss. It matters because as husbands and wives, we are still all in sales.

A brick-and-mortar store might be the sale of goods, but the married are in a sale of services. You know, like the service of a smile, a hug, a word or affirmation, a quality walk or a tender kiss. It matters not whom you are talking to, be it your last client of the day or your “honey I’m home” – the intonation and body movement matters greatly.

In fact you could probably walk into your house where your husband or wife is waiting, and say “Honey, I got all the answers for you” then throw your hands up in glory and say “Follow me, let me show you”. Rarely would you get the “What are you talking about” response because due to your excitement and body language your better half would be enrolled 93% of the time!

Would you take those odds? You better bet Vegas would.

Take action today.

This means that if you are having a crappy day and you stubbed your big toe this morning, you had better suck it up and throw on a happy face and jazz hands because people will notice. Or on the way home, don’t let traffic bring you in all droopy faced and depressed, you will infect everyone else.  

Likewise there is the Dad who gets overly excited about an epic hoops game with the guys and walks in the front door talking about the game excitedly. Well you may seem like an insensitive such-and-such to the tired and distressed wife who had food thrown at her by your toddler.

Husband: “Honey are you OK.”

Wife: “Yeah I’m fine.”

Ding-ding-ding. Captain Obvious says that those words fall into the 7%! As you spend the next 20 minutes mopping the floor and your pregnant wife watches with arms folded, you reflect that it might have been a great idea to gauge the tone of the room first. Her tone and preggo posture should have alerted 93% of you just seconds earlier that something was amiss.

Thus here is the upgrade for you to take into your life today. Have an absolute bulletproof system for always gauging the room you are in and your tone’s room for what is going on non-verbally.

Does that seem like a tall order? It is! In fact it’s probably impossible.

Instead, the better upgrade is to make sure that you are properly fueled with food, sleep, and exercise, which will help you to choose your most authentic and meaningful words. Not a quick grumpy rushed word.

The other upgrade is to be fueled by a rock-solid “why”. Your “why” is your commitment to your own personal values. When you are living through your why, through your values, then that 93% of nonverbal communication that people look to will scream happiness, authenticity and excitement. People will meet your energy and care much less about your words when you are living on purpose.

This also frees up willpower for when you walk in the door the next day to truly hone in on what verbal and non-verbal cues are being tossed around the kitchen. Like any skill this takes practice, but really, isn’t that what marriage is all about? 

Speaking of communication, how about your parents? If you are considering moving back in, or near where your parents or in-laws live, consider reading Daily Mom’s 10 Tips on How to Live with Your Parents – Again….

Photo Credits: Takmeomeo, Raul L,  Guian B, Ashley Sisk

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Jay Breitlow

A former pessimistic nuclear engineer turned optimistic and enthusiastic Chiropractor, author, Coach/Consultant, Blogger, wellness speaker and a very happily married husband and a very Happy Dad of 1.5 Children. "My passion is to help people find the authentic greatness that is already inside them - just waiting to be unleashed."Dr Jay can be found at his blog HappyDadsInc.

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