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Getting the full picture

Elissa Dennis
27th April 2020
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How seeing who you are talking to improves communications

Effective communication is about far more than the words we choose to use. While these are important, how we say them and how we look when we say them are also vital. These two elements add so much more meaning and context than is available from just the written word. Being able to see who is talking is a huge advantage.

Think about a novel. A writer builds the story, character and location all with words. These may be incredibly detailed and precise, but they cannot tell you everything. Each reader’s imagination will take the clues and build up their own, unique picture of what the protagonists look and sound like, based on their own experiences and circumstances. The likelihood is that this will be very different to another person’s interpretation. That is the magic of great writing; a classic read by millions will exist in a slightly different format inside each reader’s head.

The 7 38 55 rule

In 1971 Professor Albert Mehrabian carried out a series of experiments. He deduced there were three elements that make up face-to-face communication. These are the words used, the tone used and the body language that accompanies those words. His work led him to come up with the 7 38 55 rule which determines how important each element is.He concluded the following:

  • 7% relates to the words used
  • 38% relates to the tone used
  • 55% relates to body language

This shows just how vital visual contact is when it comes to communication. If we can’t see the person who’s talking to us, there is a danger of much of the meaning and context being lost.

We remember what we see more than what we hear

Humans are visual creatures, and this is illustrated by how the brain stores pictures for longer than it does words. Visual images are stored in the long-term memory and words and text are stored in the short-term memory. On average we remember 10% to 20% of the words that we hear compared to over 50% of the images that we see. If you want your communication to remembered, adding visuals helps enormously.

Missing the visual clues

Vision is by far our most dominant sense. Around 80% of our perceptions are created by sight. Working in an office, seeing managers and peers every day, we can quickly build up an impression of how they think we are doing and what they think of our work by their physical reactions –without them having to say a word. Seeing their facial expressions and their body language conveys a huge of amount of information to us. It is easy to spot if they satisfied, impressed, disappointed or uncertain. It is also easy to spot if they are having a good day or not.

Working in a remote team these visual clues are lost. Without being able to see the reaction of others, it can be very difficult to work out how well or not you are doing. Audio communications can help, allowing the listener to hear the tone behind the words used, but it is easy to drift off and lose concentration without being able to see the person who is speaking.

Seeing provides a better understanding

Good management relies on effective communication. Managers need to ensure employees know what is expected of them and understand what they can do to help their employees reach their goals. It requires a healthy, constructive, and continuous dialogue. For managers and employees who are used to seeing each other every day, the sudden switch to remote working puts a barrier in the way of this.

Working in the current testing conditions, there are some important conversations that visual contact could really enhance. For example, most employees’ previous objectives may well need to be altered and new ones created to fit revised business goals. These may fundamentally change what an employee is doing and their focus. Speaking face-to-face via a video link will lend that all important visual element. Managers will be able to see an employee’s reaction and judge whether they understand what is expected or if they need further support or reassurance, even if they don’t express that through words.

Vision comes to Appraisd

When it comes to effective management, face-to-face communication is key. Being able to see facial reactions and body language is invaluable in providing the full picture and getting a proper understanding of what an employee really thinks and feels. This is why we are introducing a new video function on Appraisd, allowing managers and employees to have more effective review conversations at a time when they cannot physically be together. By integrating it with Appraisd, managers can seamlessly review an employee’s self-assessment or add their own notes without the need to flick between applications, eliminating additional distractions and enabling them to give their full focus to these crucial conversations.

If you would like to find out more about our new video function click here or contact our Customer Success team via online chat or at support@appraisd.com.