The 7% Rule

Posted by Ian Matthews  ·  1 visitor comment

Youth Minister Joel Preston looks at the importance of verbal and face-to-face communication

In today's society, it seems there are a million and one ways to communicate. Facebook, Texting, MSN, Email, BBM, Skype etc are just some of the ways which we can hold conversations in our digital age. As with all tools, there are always 2 outcomes we can get as a result of using these facilities - positive and negative. As managers, communication is a vital weapon in our arsenal, and we need to be aware how to communicate effectively.
Apparently, words only form approx 7% of our communication, 38% is our tone and 55% is body language.

Therefore, when you write to someone, whether it be via a handwritten note, email or iMessage, you are only using 7% of your total communication skills.

One Friday evening I received a text from a volunteer who helped run the youth congregation in our youth ministry. In the text, she asked me to complete a task I had already deemed as unnecessary, which I explained in the message I sent back to her. 10 minutes later she replied, giving further reason as to why the task should be completed, but this time, I felt she was emotionally blackmailing me into doing as she said. I decided this needed challenging and replied to her message. We sent texts back and forth throughout the night on this subject... it didn't end well. It resulted in dividing us and leaving us annoyed at each other and we didn't even clear things up before our youth congregation the following Sunday.

On the Monday, I went through the text conversation with my line manager and asked his advice. It was simple...

"There is no substitute for a face-to-face conversation."

He was right. I went through the texts again myself and realised that the situation would never have escalated if I'd have simply picked up the phone and spoken to the volunteer personally. The words I wrote could have - and probably were - misinterpreted as overtly hostile. The same too for the words she wrote.

When you write to someone you lose a vast majority of communication.

Is there a sensitive conversation you need to have with someone? Something that is pastorally delicate? Despite it being harder, please have that conversation face-to-face. If not possible, at least pick up the phone. That way you are using 45% of your possible communication rather than just 7%


Joel Preston is a Youth Minister for St Michael's church in Stoke Gifford, North Bristol. He manages a team of interns and volunteers and has been involved in a variety of Christian Youth work settings for over 7 years. This article first appeared on Youth Ministry Management, where Joel is a regular contributor.

9th February

February 9th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Ian Matthews

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Ian Matthews

Ian Matthews

Posts: 8

great advice

Thursday, 15th March 2012 at 8:27AM

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