How to Use Mehrabian’s Communication Model for Analyzing Business Situation?

Business People Working In A Conference Room


Most often, you communicate with your peers, team members or client to strike the best deal for your business. The communication takes place through language, signs, gestures and pictograms. It has been found that the success of business deals depends much on nonverbal communication. In order to understand how you can improve your communicating skill, you should know about Mehrabian’s communication model.

This communication model was developed by Professor Albert Mehrabian.

About Albert Mehrabian

Albert Mehrabian has researched on many issues related with nonverbal communication. He is a Phd holder from Clark University. He started his career in teaching and researching at the University Of California in 1964. He is also engaged in research works that deal in psychology.

Apart from his fascinating works, Mehrabian’s research provides the basis for widely quoted and much oversimplified statistic for effectiveness of spoken communications.

Mehrabian’s Communication Model in Precise Form

  • 7% of message regarding attitudes and feelings is in words that are spoken.
  • 55% of message regarding attitudes and feelings can be seen in facial expression.
  • 38% of message citing attitudes and feelings is paralinguistic.

The following is over simplified and common interpretation of Mehrabian’s findings that are quoted and applied by many persons in order to cover important communications. The work of Albert Mehrabian is the derivation.

It has been found that many people love to listen to short and concise statements. However, you should use the simplified version of Mehrabian formula. You should state that the formula is applicable to communications of attitudes and feelings.

Simplistic Interpretation of Mehrabian’s Communication Model

  • 7% of meaning in words which are spoken
  • 38% of meaning refers to paralinguistic cues
  • 55% of meaning refers to facial expression

Tips for Explaining Application and Context of Mehrabian’s Theory

Notwithstanding all qualifications and backgrounds, Mehrabian’s communication model has become widely accepted statistics in communications.

You will find that it is referenced and you can use it yourself, not always with reference to originator and not always in pure form.

The Essence of Mehrabian’s Model

It is helpful and powerful and certainly better than placing excessive reliance on words alone for conveying communications, especially for those carrying emotional implications.

Therefore, subjected to suitable explanation and qualification, Mehrabian’s theory and findings resulting from them are specifically useful for explaining the essence of understanding the meaning in communication as separate from words alone.

Here are number of simple ways in order to begin for qualifying the application and interpretation of this formula.

You should first clarify that the Mehrabian theory is most often quoted out of context.

Look at this example. The instruction suggests that everyone should evacuate the building as it has caught fire. The statement carries 100% meaning in words. The body language and tone of the voice may indicate how far you are ahead of the person who is issuing the instruction. Apart from that, you can decode the message fully through words without requiring being an expert in body language.

The value of Mehrabian’s formula relates to communications where emotional contents play important role. It is mostly used for business and management practices, where attitude and motivation lay crucial effect on outcomes.

How to Use Mehrabian’s Theory and Statistics?

Understanding the difference between meaning and words is the vital capability for establishing effective relationships and communications.

The Mehrabian model is specifically helpful for illustrating the essence of factors other than words alone while someone is trying to convey the meaning or interpreting the meaning. But, suitable measures are to be taken while considering the context of communication.

In Mehrabian’s researches, tone, style, expression, body language and facial expression indeed account for 93% of the meaning which have been inferred by people involved in study.

The understanding on how to convey and interpret meaning will always play vital role in building effective management principles, relationships and communications.

A better way of transferring Mehrabian’s findings to telephone and modern written communications is simply to say that great care is needed during usage of expression and language, as the visual channels do not exist. It is incorrect to assume that by removing a specific channel, the effectiveness of communication gets reduced in line with the represented Mehrabian percentages.

It is reasonable to say that email and other forms of written communications are restricted to conveying words alone. When words are said, they cannot convey facial expression.

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Written Communications Sometimes Lead to Confusion

Mehrabian’s theory provides you with point as to why written communications sometimes cause offence or lead to confusion. But, his model should not be considered to mean that all written communications are flawed and inevitably weak.

If this was the case, then there will be no need for written deeds, contracts, public notices, legal documents and other written communications which are aimed to convey 100% of intended meaning adequately using written words alone.

Limitations of Telephonic Communication

Telephonic communication can convey words and the way they are said. Such communication does not convey facial expression. Mehrabian’s communication model offers clues as to why telephone communications are less reliable and successful for emotional or sensitive issues. But, this model cannot be used to say that without a visual channel; only 45% of the meaning can be conveyed.

Mehrabian’s model does not say that all telephonic communications are ineffective. For example, ringing to your home and asking what items are to be brought from retail store. For exchanging information and meaning, this kind of communication proves effective rather than driving home and seeking advice face to face.


Mehrabian’s Communication model is an influential piece of work. It is helpful as it explains the importance of apt and careful communications. Like other models for communication, care should be taken when transferring it to various situations. When you use the basic principles and findings as an example or guide, you should not transfer the percentages or make direct assumptions about degree of effectiveness. Under the situation well and then apply this model for getting the best business result.

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