[Guest Blogger: Mary Anne Fry]

One of the songs in the play Rent is the “Seasons of Love.”

In the song we are asked how we measure a year in our life…  Five hundred, twenty five thousand, six hundred (525,600) minutes in a year. ..Do you measure a year in daylights, in sunsets, , in laughter?

How about: In words?

How do we value 525,600 minutes of words?  We use words, stumble over them, misuse them and they are a seemingly free commodity. You recall the childhood taunt: “Sticks and Stone can break my bones, but words will never hurt me”  Wrong…. Words have lasting power. They are essential building blocks of human interactions… of communication.

As I was reviewing some leadership values and standards I was looking for common threads. One that especially stands out is that good communication is critical to the success of any project.

Part of communication is words, but effective communication is not just words.

A study on communication pioneered by Professor Albert Mehrabian  proposed that the meaning of words could be divided into 3 parts:

  • 7% on the word itself
  • 38% on the way the word is spoken
  • 55% (over half!) on body language and primarily facial expression

It is also interesting to note that there have been several studies offering evidence that people retain only 25% of text read online.

To be really powerful, words need to be teamed with body language and voice. And yet our opportunities to communicate verbally or in person are diminishing daily. We live in that 7% zone where it is necessary to communicate electronically… by the word itself.

Even with just a 7% power supply each of us still have the ability to drive our words in a positive direction to support our goals. We just have to keep in mind the limitations of the word alone when drafting the message and accept when it is better to pick up the phone or have a meeting.

How do you measure a year? 525,600 minutes of powerful positive words and hopefully a few amazing sunsets and lots of laughter.