"Silent Messages" -- A Wealth of Information About Nonverbal Communication (Body Language)

Mehrabian, A. (1981). Silent messages: Implicit communication of emotions and attitudes. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth (currently distributed by Albert Mehrabian, am@kaaj.com)

My findings on communication and body language, as well as those of many other investigators, are organized and summarized in very readable form in "Silent Messages." The book deals with all facets of nonverbal communication, including body positions and movements, facial expressions, voice quality and intonation during speech, volume and speed of speech, subtle variations in wording of sentences that reveal hidden meanings in what is said, combinations of messages from different sources (e.g., face, tone of voice, words), and general descriptions of individual communication styles or mannerisms.

Most of the findings summarized in "Silent Messages" can be used to enhance one's awareness of the many subtle aspects of interpersonal communication, and to improve one's communication skills. Leadership and management trainers can make very effective use of this book in a variety of training seminars on improving communication skills, leadership, or effectiveness of working groups.

Here are only a few examples of the numerous important aspects of communication described in "Silent Messages:"

  1. During persuasion -- what are the important nonverbal messages for effective persuasion of others, for example, in a supervisory role or in sales?

  2. Deceitful behavior -- how can one detect that another is being deceitful or not overly forthcoming?

  3. Individual communication styles -- how do we describe a person's general communication style and what are the basic elements of a person's style? How can one identify problem elements in one's own nonverbal communication and improve one's communication effectiveness?

  4. Analyses of the way in which sentences are worded. For example, what differences in attitudes are implied when someone says: "I like those people" instead of, "I like these people?"

  5. Inconsistent communications -- the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages. My findings on this topic have received considerable attention in the literature and in the popular media. "Silent Messages" contains a detailed discussion of my findings on inconsistent messages of feelings and attitudes (and the relative importance of words vs. nonverbal cues) on pages 75 to 80.

    Total Liking = 7% Verbal Liking + 38% Vocal Liking + 55% Facial Liking

Please note that this and other equations regarding relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages were derived from experiments dealing with communications of feelings and attitudes (i.e., like-dislike). Unless a communicator is talking about their feelings or attitudes, these equations are not applicable . Also see references 286 and 305 in Silent Messages -- these are the original sources of my findings.

Contact Information


Copyright© 1995-2016 by Albert Mehrabian