Debunking the Mehrabian Myth


I’m not afraid to admit it… The first time I heard it, I totally believed the Mehrabian Myth!  Mehrabian’s research claimed that the meaning of a message is communicated 7% by words, 38% by tone of voice, and 55% by body language (Source).  I quickly bought into this idea because body language and tone of voice are so important to the meaning behind a message.

Upon further investigation, however, not only was this idea a myth, but it was also hard to believe I once thought it was completely logical!  “Busting the Mehrabian Myth” is quite possibly the best “debunking” I’ve seen.  Public speaking coach Lisa Braithwaite shared this on Twitter this week:


After checking out the video, I also spent quite a bit of time on Coach Lisa B’s website.  Visit her website, Speak To Engage, here.  She has quite an interesting blog called Speak Schmeak which you can read here.  Her most recent post on Miss America introductions is really funny.

What great communication blogs have you stumbled upon this week?


4 thoughts on “Debunking the Mehrabian Myth

  1. I’ve actually presented this myth in part to new trainees… As you say, on first viewing it makes a lot of sense. I was embarrassed when one of them showed me this exact same video. We live and learn! Thanks for posting the blog though. There’s some great stuff on there!

  2. I definitely bought into this myth hook, line, and sinker. But, what’s really happening here is a very specific situation. Once I saw that brief illustration of communication without language, it clicked right away. We are language-based creatures. We are metaphorical thinkers, who understand the world by way of language-based symbols and comparisons. Body language and tone don’t communicate the essence of a message (perhaps only the emotional tone and context?)!

  3. Can I simply just say what a relief to find someone who genuinely understands what they are discussing on the
    net. You actually know how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    More and more people need to check this out and understand this side of the
    story. I can’t believe you are not more popular given that
    you definitely possess the gift.

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