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Listen with Your Eyes

Listen with Your Eyes

A study by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, Professor of Psychology at UCLA, shows that only 7% of all communication is based in the words we say. Of the other 93%, 38% is made up of the tonality we use and the remaining 55% is made up nonverbal ques; body language1. This means that most of what we communicate is picked up by others’ eyes. It suggests that our actions are louder than our words. It also suggests what we observe in people is what they communicate. It is hard to control our body language, facial expressions, etc.

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can you tell what others are conveying to you? Are they engaged with you—looking you in the eye? Or are they looking around the room for a quit exit?

President Kennedy was famous for making the person he was speaking to feel like they were the only person in the room. How did he do this? By giving them his full attention. He engaged with them, he looked them in the eye, he leaned in. He was known for being charismatic. And people noticed—this is what they saw.

What you say is also important, but not as important as how you say it through body language. Something as simple as asking someone how they are and then looking around conveys disinterest, and you lose their trust. The mountain you need to climb to gain their trust back is high. Trust is a big factor in building relationships.

What do you convey when you interact with others? What do they see? Do you make them feel important? How do they communicate with you? What do you see?

Listening with our eyes garners more information than listening with our ears.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” —Peter F. Drucker

Have a great weekend.


1Mehrabian, A. (1981). Silent messages: Implicit communication of emotions and attitudes. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.


About Friday Food for Thought (FFfT)

I frequently attend conferences and retreats on entrepreneurship and leadership and while I am away, the J2 team picks up the slack, allowing me to learn to be better at what I do. I wanted to share what I was learning with my team, so I created the weekly FFfT emails in November of 2015 and have been writing them ever since.

Before long, the J2 staff began sharing the FFfT emails with their friends and family and now other leaders have asked to be included, which led to the creation of this newsletter. I hope you enjoy!