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The 7-38-55 Rule of Communication


Good or bad, communication plays a major role in the success (or failure) a program experiences. But what does good communication look like?

I think that can vary from person to person, but I want to take a moment to talk about a principle that changed the way that I viewed communication.

It is referred to as the "7-38-55 Rule of Communication" and I am going to quickly walk through it.

Communication is more than just the words that come out of our mouth.

Communication is 38% tone and 55% body language. That leaves only 7% left for the actual words that are spoken.

Have you ever sent a text and the person receiving it responded much differently than you anticipated? Or maybe you were the person that over-reacted? It is nearly impossible to get a grasp on tone or body language via a text message. Sure, we have emojis and things like that, but you get the point.

I think about being a 7 year old and being forced to apologize to my sister. I didn't understand why my mom didn't accept my effort in apologizing. Yeah, I said I was I slumped over and said it with a sarcastic tone.

Tone and body language are quite possibly more impactful than we recognize. As a player, I didn't need to be yelled at. The look that I got from the sideline communicated enough to me and I understood what I needed to do.

I am not saying that we need to eliminate yelling. That is not my purpose in writing this. In reality I am actually a pretty loud and passionate coach myself. My goal is to point out that our words are not the only form of communication.

During my time as a college coach we had two players that we best friends, but their personalities could not have been more different. Daniel was super athletic, skilled and could score in bunches. Kellan was undersized, often times much less athletic than the person he was guarding and not as naturally gifted.

But Kellan had a fire inside of him that I am not sure I have come across since. Kellan would run through a brick wall. Daniel was the exact opposite. Sure, he wanted to win, but he had a different temperament. Kellan needed someone to get in his face and yell at him. I actually think he wanted that. That is what got him going.

But that would not have worked for Daniel.

Daniel was the kid that you pulled to the side, put your arm around him and told him it was time for him to go take off. Taking the time to pull him to the side was communicating as much or more than what you actually ended up saying to him.

Two completely different ways of communication used to get the same outcome.

Hopefully understanding that tone and body language play a vital role in the communication process can help you as much as it has helped me.


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