Then you have Body Language or what is also called Metacommunication. This means that you don’t open your mouth or write anything yet you are still communicating with people. We learn these via imitation in our culture. The good part is that they can serve us as an international language. Your smile says you are happy. Your frown says you are unhappy. Your mouth all sideways, your arms crossed, you’re tapping your feet all can mean you’re nervous. Breathing out heavily tells us you are annoyed. Your refusing to speak or storming out of a room mean you’re angry. In fact, body language is more believable than verbal language, according to research conducted by Albert Mehrabian, Professor of Psychology at UCLA. He concludes that over 50% of the messages we send and receive are via body language.
Today’s blog will take you into the world of opening your mouth or keeping it closed or writing down your thoughts. Communication is humankind’s most important activity. You issue a message and another human being receives it. This is called a transaction. (Common name is a statement.)
Transactions can either be verbal (with words) or with body language or a combination of both.
First let’s talk about what you say and you write which consist of words or verbal language. Three types of transactions can occur:
1. FACT: This is a statement in which you state something that is a proven truth. People love facts and specific details.
Madonna is a singer.
My old address was 328 University Avenue.
The last time I talked with you I got a headache and had to take 2 aspirins.
It was 103 when I left for work this morning.
I broke the handle on the toaster this morning.
The film METALLICA has been in release for 2 weeks and has only brought in 2.7 million dollars according to the Box Office Chart in Entertainment Weekly.
Joe Johnson is the president of our Coachella Writers Club.
I write at a 9th grade level according to the Fog Index
2. INFERENCE: This is something you may believe but haven’t actually checked out to be a fact. People will take a few of these but overdo it and they’ll quickly lose interest in what you’re saying.
I heard Madonna lives in Beverly Hills.
I’ve forgotten which street I used to live on in Riverside.
I always get a headache when I talk with you.
It was very hot when I left for work yesterday morning.
I’m always breaking something.
They say the film METALLICA sucks.
That guy is president of a club I used to belong to.
The Fog Index doesn’t make sense.
3. OPINION: This is your thought or opinion on a subject. People will only put up with very few of these. They get bored and tired really fast if you go on and on with your opinions about things. It seems like an ego trip.
I think Madonna is a rotten singer.
I used to live near the freeway.
Leave me alone!
They don’t call me butter fingers for nothing.
I thought a lot of the film METALLICA was stupid. (This will become a fact if you are specific: EX: I thought parts of the film METALLICA were stupid—especially the part where the band sends a roadie out for a sack of something which is never explained.)
God, I hate hot weather.
I think that guy Joe is a clod.
That Fog Index is not going to make me change my writing style.
You see a friend who has a frown on his face and looks upset. You say,
“What’s wrong?” “Oh, nothing,” he replies as he tries to smile. You talk more because you don’t believe him.
More often than not we combine the spoken with body language. “Leave me alone” combined with slapping the other person certainly makes a strong statement. Throwing your hands up and saying “I give up” means you are disgusted.
Professor Mehrabian in his research on communication points out that if you use a lot of facts and be specific as a writer, your readers will love you. Conversely he states that using an over abundance of inferences and opinions will cause your readers to desert you as well as editors and producers, who will reject your work.
Do TWO things to upgrade your writing: (1) Apply metcomunication with many of your verbal statements. (2) Add more facts to your writing.
Good writing and next blog, we’ll go into some more facets of communication.