In this blog post, I’ll share my strategy for better communication using sage advice from the world’s leading experts in verbal and non-verbal communication.

The one secret to communicating effectively

Have you ever wondered how some leaders seem to share their ideas effortlessly – engaging, persuading, and inspiring their teams by building a reputation as a credible thought leader, while others seem to struggle?

The simple answer is that it’s not enough to have great ideas – you also need to know how to communicate them. But how do you do that? The secret? Learn to master powerful non-verbal cues (also known as the PQ channel).

How do we communicate?

The communication between people happens simultaneously on two channels: verbal and non-verbal. These can be defined as follows:

  • Verbal communication (or the Data channel) is the spoken word – communication of data, facts, and ideas through language.
  • Non-verbal communication (or the PQ channel) includes body language, facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice.

When we communicate, we can often feel like we’re focused on the spoken word, and for that reason, non-verbal communication could be described as being less visible because our attention is on the conversation not on the other person’s physical movements.

However, pioneering and extensive research by Professor Albert Mehrabian has revealed that communication is 55% non-verbal, 38% vocal, and only 7% verbal. This is known as the 7-38-55% communication rule. It means that although they might be less visible, non-verbal cues are the most powerful form of communication transmitted in the form of energy and emotion – whether we’re aware of it or not.

The ‘invisible’ difference

It is clear that non-verbal communication can have a powerful effect on how we convey meaning and how the person we’re communicating with receives our message.

With that in mind, it’s good to be aware that as a leader, most of your persuasion, inspiration, trust building, and influence is going to take place at an ‘invisible’ level – non-verbal communication, what’s sometimes referred to as the Positive Intelligence Quotient (PQ) channel.

Powerful information is being simultaneously broadcasted in the PQ channel conveying energy, emotions, attitude, and tone. What most people don’t know is that the information in the PQ channel trumps the data channel.

Working on the basis that the PQ channel is typically more powerful than the data channel in communication and human connection, it makes sense to consciously use non-verbal communication to improve the effectiveness of your communication. Effective leaders are great at influencing, motivating and persuading because they know what matters to themselves and others. They communicate in both the data and the PQ channel in a way that is effective.

So how do you learn to focus more on the PQ channel?

  1. Your rational mind is good for tuning in to data, but not energy and emotion. As a matter of fact, the harder you think, the less access you have to the PQ channel. So instead of hard thinking, do a reset also called PQ reps (you focus on one thing and let go of your thoughts) to activate the sage part of your brain. This will enable you to be better attuned to energy, emotion, and context.
  2. As a leader, be fascinated with all the rich information being communicated in tone, body language, and energy, and pick up a lot of information about what is really going on with yourself and the others you’re trying to influence. In doing this, you will be more effective in relating, persuading, resolving conflict and/or generating deeper trust.

Towards more effective communication

To deliver the most impactful communication, you need to align both your data channel and the PQ channel. This positive reinforcement helps you to get your message across in the most effective way. But how do you achieve the best alignment?

I find this approach useful:

  • Before you communicate your message, do a reset until you are present and into a positive mindset or Sage.
  • Once you’re in a positive mindset, ask yourself how you want the receiver of your communication to feel.
  • Use your memory to bring to mind a situation where you felt similar emotions and positive energy. What did that feel like? How did you behave?
  • Now transmit the same positive energy and emotions that you want the receivers to experience when you deliver your message.

Give it a try, and see how you get on! Your feedback is always welcome. Get in touch with me to start a conversation.

Want to learn more about effective communication? Try these recommended reads:

  • ‘Power’ by Jeffrey Pfeffer
  • ‘Positive Intelligence’ by Shirzad Chamine