By: Emily Bennington
I was in a meeting recently with a young woman who wasn’t getting her way. She was pushing for an idea she strongly believed in… but the others were less convinced.
As the meeting wore on, she became increasingly aggressive. As she continued to state her case, her voice got higher and more hostile. When forced to listen to opposing views, she sunk low in her seat with her arms folded until, eventually, the meeting chairman tabled the issue altogether.
As I witnessed the exchange, I couldn’t help but think that if this woman were aware of how she was coming across to everyone else, she would be embarrassed. In fact, up until the point she allowed her raw passion take over, I had viewed her as smart, savvy…even poised.
In the end, she never did get her way but, more than that, she alienated a few colleagues, causing rifts that have not entirely subsided many weeks later.
This exchange underscores the 60/30/10 rule of communication. In other words….
60% of communication is body language. I’m sure this woman thought she was doing the “proper” thing in listening to others voice their concerns, but her crossed arms and eye rolling spoke volumes about how she really felt.
30% is how clearly you speak. In the meeting above, as everyone became more impassioned about their own points of view, the less those points actually made sense. Accordingly, because people eventually just started reacting to each other with no advance thought, nothing was accomplished.
10% is the message. To be honest, I can no longer remember what my colleague was originally so fired up about, but I do remember how she lost her cool in a professional environment.
Assuming you’re reading this because you want to become a leader within your organization, it’s important for you to be highly aware of your own body language when communicating with others. Because when it comes to communicating effectively, how you say it is always as important as what you say.
Emily Bennington is coauthor of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job (Ten Speed Press, 2010). She is a frequent speaker to students and organizations on the topic of career success and the host of Professional Studio 365, a popular blog for new grads transitioning from classroom to boardroom. Emily is a regular contributor to the college section of The Huffington Post and has been featured on CNN, ABC News, and in publications including The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and US News and World Report. Emily can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.