What to consider when striving towards becoming an effective communicator

Did you know that verbal communication as such has commonly three different components or levels? These are:

  1. Paraverbal
  2. Non-verbal
  3. Verbal

In order to be an effective communicator, it is important to know what lies behind these definitions and what they mean for oral communications:


These aspects of communication refer to the intonation, cadence, volume or pace of saying words. It can also be the accent, a laughter, a pause or a slight cough.


Here we mean communication through gestures and touch, by using body language or posture, by facial expression and eye contact.


Verbal aspects are what we actually say to our communication partner using language and linguistic symbols.

Following a study of Albert Mehrabian[1], an American Psychologist which has been further elaborated and refined by various other researchers subsequently, the following numbers will be interesting to you, who still have their validity and illustrate to what extent which aspect of communications is relevant to the understanding of information, thus to effectively communicating a message where your counterpart understands the meaning behind what you want to deliver:

  • The verbal aspect only accounts for 7 % (hence the content of what you are saying)
  • 38 % come from the paraverbal aspect of communication and surely not surprising:
  • 55 % from the non-verbal aspects.

Especially when looking into intercultural communications, one more level of communication can be added, as does Jürgen Bolten (1997)[2] for example. The:


With extra-verbal we mean factors inherent to a situation which can have an influence on the act of communication, i.e. the time, the situational condition, technical means, clothing, expectations.

In order to have the desired effect when communicating, negotiating, speaking etc. you need to take all of these aspects into consideration, especially the ones which are not directly linked to delivering words as shown above. This will substantially affect your relationship and the message that your counterpart receives and understands. You can imagine that if an intercultural dimension is added to this, things get even more complex!

How these different levels are having an impact on written communications and how you do all this in a mindful way will be looked at in the following posts.

Have an excellent day and thanks for reading!

[1] See for example here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Mehrabian

[2] Jürgen Bolten (1997): Interkulturelle Wirtschaftskommunikation. In: Walter, Rolf (Editor)

Wirtschaftswissenschaften. Eine Einführung. Paderborn: Schöningh. S. 469-497.

About the power of WE: Leading with Compassion

Continuing on the path of one of my previous articles (About people skills and empathic leadership) where I wrote about people skills and that the ability to ‘think outside of the box’ and to create a climate of exchange, knowledge sharing and trust while leading is of major importance for providing direction and innovation to any company, I have to add the following: in fact leading with compassion and empathy is truly the most effective type of leadership. Why? Well let me take the time to explain this to you!

Compassion can be defined as the “deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.”[1] In his book Search Inside Yourself, Chade-Meng Tan gives a definition of compassion that has tree components, given by Tibetan Buddhist scholar Thupten Jinpa:

1. A cognitive component: “I understand you.”

2. An affective component: “I feel for you.”

3. A motivational component: “I want to help you.”[2]

This leads directly to asking a simple question, as the excellent blog post of Louisa and George Altman put it rightly: do you work in a WE or a ME centered workplace? Or as Bill George, former Medtronic CEO puts it[3]: going from ‘I’ to ‘We’, leaving selfish behavior behind and acknowledging the effort of the whole.

Actually establishing a sense of belonging and trust, a culture of openness and care for each other thus bringing compassion to a team or a group of people as a leader, can have amazing effects as I have discovered for myself. Of course, it might take longer as you don’t just do things without explaining, acting top-down, but you communicate in a transparent way, opening up a dialogue, letting people comment and listen to their concerns/ideas. But at the end of the day, it will make your team very strong as its members will have established a strong relationship of trust with you and the others. Trust on the other hand is the foundation of effectively working teams. Finally, bringing compassion and empathy to your team will also highly motivate its members and if you would ask them to walk the extra mile to achieve an extraordinary goal, they would do so without even asking.

Now, imagine if more teams in an organization would think and act in the above described way; it would create a corporate climate where employees would feel at ease, understood and valorized. At the same time, excellent results would be achieved. The dream for every CEO: from good to great and from I/ME to WE…

Now: in what kind of an environment do you work in?

[1] The Free Dictionary, ‘compassion’: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/compassion

[2] Page 199, Edition of 2012.

[3] http://www.billgeorge.org/page/true-north

The quote of today: Happiness

Happiness cannot be found
through great effort and willpower,
but is already present, in open relaxation and letting go.

Don’t strain yourself,
there is nothing to do or undo.
Whatever momentarily arises in the body-mind
has no real importance at all,
has little reality whatsoever.
Why identify with, and become attached to it,
passing judgment upon it and ourselves?

Far better to simply
let the entire game happen on its own,
springing up and falling back like waves –
without changing or manipulating anything –
and notice how every thing vanishes and
reappears, magically, again and again,
time without end.

Only our searching for happiness
prevents us from seeing it.
It’s like a vivid rainbow which you pursue without ever catching,
or a dog chasing its own tail.

Although peace and happiness do not exist
as an actual thing or place,
it is always available
and accompanies you every instant.

Don’t believe in the reality
of good and bad experiences;
they are like today’s ephemeral weather,
like rainbows in the sky.

Wanting to grasp the ungraspable,
you exhaust yourself in vain.
As soon as you open and relax this tight fist of grasping,
infinite space is there – open, inviting and comfortable.

Make use of this spaciousness, this freedom and natural ease.
Don’t search any further.
Don’t go into the tangled jungle
looking for the great awakened elephant,
who is already resting quietly at home
in front of your own hearth.

Nothing to do or undo,
nothing to force,
nothing to want,
and nothing missing.

Emaho! Marvelous!
Everything happens by itself.

A Spontaneous Vajra Song by Venerable Lama Gendun