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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Grysban

What Eating Sushi in Brazil Taught Me About Communication

A few weeks ago I found myself eating unknown sushi dishes in Brazil while my 3 companions chattered away in Portuguese.


Gratefully alternating bites of mystery fish with a more-familiar cucumber salad, I "listened" to the conversation happening around the table. I only knew one of the Brazilians and just a handful of the words they were saying.


Regardless, it was obvious that everyone was having a great time, making jokes, and telling stories. They definitely tossed around some good-natured sarcasm.


How could I tell?


Forbes.com reminds us that “only 7% of all communication is done through verbal communication, whereas the nonverbal component of our daily communication, such as the tonality of our voice and body language, make up 38% and 55% respectively.”


These profound percentages, based on the research of behavioral psychologist Dr. Albert Mehrabian, mean that HOW we communicate is just as important as WHAT we say.


That’s why, while I didn’t understand most of the words my companions were saying, I still connected with the experience.


As a marketing writer, this fascinates me.


Since copywriting is mostly written communication (with some exceptions), what does this mean for us marketers and small business owners? When we can’t use body language or tone of voice, how on earth do we create clear and engaging messages for the target audience?


The answer: we have to know both the company and the customers/clients inside and out.


We pinpoint the vision, values, and uniqueness of the company. What do they want to be known for? What do they offer that no one else does? Who is their ideal prospect? How do they want their customers to feel by doing business with them?


We also study the customers or clients. What do they value? What are their pain points? What are their deepest needs and core desires? We dig into the product or service we’re marketing and unearth its most compelling benefits. How does this product or service meet a need or solve a problem?


Lastly, we sift through all the concepts and messages until we’re left with only words that resonate deeply with the people we're trying to reach.


When we only have 7% of the communication pie to work with, each choice of word is pivotal.


Bryan Kramer shares on his blog that “Human beings are innately complex yet strive for simplicity. Our challenge as humans is to find, understand and explain the complex in its most simplistic form. This means you, marketers. Find the commonality in our humanity, and speak the language we’ve all been waiting for.”


As a business, the messages we share with our audience are full of potential: potential connection, relationship, help, sales, and growth.


Each word matters. Don’t let any of them go to waste.


(My advice for eating unnamed sushi rolls might be a tad more subjective. But that's for another day.)



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