Have you ever wondered just how many ways us human beings communicate? If so here’s a few facts and statistics about non verbal communication – Body Language.
Mario Pei, estimated humans produce up to 700,000 different signs.
Ray Birdwhistell, estimates the face is capable of over 250,000 expressions.
M H Krout, identified 5,000 distinct hand gestures.
G W Hughes has catalogued 1,000 different postures and their accompanying gestures.According to Wharton University studies, human beings take in information about the world around us through our five senses (actually we have many more than just five that everyone thinks but that’s another article)
Other senses 7%
Retention Verbal 10%
Retention Verbal – Visual 51%
Albert H Mehrabian experimented in the late 60’s and early 70’s and came up with this calculation in terms of how important the non verbal movements, signals and gestures are when it comes to the overall effectiveness of our communication in relaying our message to others.
Words account for only 7%
Tone of voice accounts for 38%
Body language accounts for 55%
Although in fairness, it’s not an absolutely reliable way of calculating such figures, as this study was conducted for a telecoms company over the telephone. Therefore, the person on the other end could hear the words and the tone of voice but lacked the visual input of the body language.
What are the uses of body language?
There’s predominantly three ways in which we use body language signals, movements and gestures and they are:
As a direct replacement for words – sign language is a prime example.
As a reinforcement of our words – we gesture to emphasize speech.
As a mirror of our inner emotions and attitudes – people read our faces, body angles, distance etc.
Cultural differences in body language are infinite and change all the time, especially now with worldwide movies, the internet, exotic holidays etc.
We now see more of other cultures than ever before so it makes sense that the same gestures can have several different meanings and out of all our 700,000 different signals there are said to only be six that are universal.