In his studies, Mehrabian comes to two conclusions. Firstly, that there are basically three elements in any communication process:
- Tone of voice
- Nonverbal behaviour
Secondly, the non-verbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially when they are incongruent: If words disagree with the tone of voice and nonverbal behaviour, people tend to believe the tonality and nonverbal behaviour.
According to Mehrabian, these three elements account differently for our liking for the person who puts forward a message concerning their feelings: words account for 7%, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and body language accounts for 55% of the liking. They are often abbreviated as the "3 Vs" for Verbal, Vocal & Visual.