In the 1970s, UCLA Professor Albert Mehrabian created a study on the relative importance of various types of communication.

Mehrabian found that a mere 7% of the meaning in communication came from the actual words. And a whopping ninety-three percent of meaning came from nonverbal communication. Of that, 38% of meaning is in our tone and inflection, while we convey 55% of meaning through our body language.

And yet, the busy executive rarely makes the time to really communicate. Instead, he rattles off a memo and expects his obedient staff to understand every nuance and rationale, then carry out his orders flawlessly.

Be honest. How many times have you slouched at your desk, or staggered down the hall in a cold sweat, clueless about something your boss just told you? Lord knows I have. And let me tell you, it’s a horrible feeling. I know I’m not the only one who’s suffered.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Believe in the power of “huh?”
The next time you’re barraged with BULL around your office, find a moment to corner your boss. Say to him “Phil, you’re a good person, and one heck of a manager. But Phil? I haven’t a clue what you’re telling me most of the time. Could you take it again from the top, once more with feeling?”

I’ll bet you’ll see his shoulders settle a bit, a warm smile will wash across his face, his eyes will brighten. Then he’ll nod with appreciation, put his arm around your shoulder and say “thank you.”

Or, he may growl at you and walk the other way. But be patient. And keep repeating “Say What”?