Is It What You Say or Is It How You Say It?

Is It What You Say or Is It How You Say It

For years sales trainers have mistakenly taught that tonality (tone of voice) and body language are more important than the actual words you say. This has become a sales training myth that is ignorantly passed from trainer to trainer. To get the straight scoop on the truth, we need to go to the source and analyze where this misconception started.

The root of all of this comes from an often sited study on the impact of nonverbal cues in communication processes done by Albert Mehrabian.

In this study, Mehrabian found that when we communicate about feelings and attitudes, the received message (the receiver’s perception and interpretation of the message) is based on a combination of word choice, vocal tone and facial expression. Mehrabian expressed his observation with his “Liking Formula” that says:

Total Liking equals 7% verbal liking + 38% of vocal liking + 55% facial liking.

Mehrabian’s study has been misquoted, misapplied and misconstrued by many sales trainers to say that 93% of every message we convey to others comes from our tonality and body language.

And that interpretation is simply not true.

What is true, is that in ambiguous situations when we are conveying mixed messages or when our words, tonality and body language seem to be in conflict, people place more emphasis on the tone and body language than they do to the words.

In other words: If your words do not match your tone and body language, people will believe your tone and body language before they will believe your words.

To become a master of sales you need to develop the ability to carefully choose and monitor your own words, tonality and body language to make sure that they are in agreement and that there are no inconsistencies in what you are saying and how you are saying it.

Since prospects send a lot of mixed messages and sometimes do not tell you the true story, you must become ex- pert at reading between the lines and recognizing inconsistencies between the words they are using and the non- verbal messages they are conveying if you want to find out the truth.

When you find yourself in a situation in which the prospect’s words do not match their tone of voice and body language, you can bet that their true meaning can be interpreted through their tone of voice and their body language.

While they may be saying one thing, they may not be actually meaning what they are saying. In some cases they are confused, and in some cases they are misleading or lying to you.

When you observe inconsistencies in body language, voice and facial expression, you need to stop and dig deeper by asking more penetrating questions to uncover the true meaning of what they are trying to say.

If you fail to do this, you will make many assumptions, most of which prove to be untrue.

All of this requires advanced training in listening and questioning skills. Admittedly, it is not easy to become ex- pert at this skill, but it is well worth the effort because in many cases it will be what sets you apart from the un- skilled product peddlers you compete against.