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.