Friday, March 29, 2013

You're Saying What You're not Saying - Non Verbal Communication

Ever taken note of the look on your wife's face after you've asked for your screwdriver for the fifth time that week or the body language of your teenager after you've asked him to clean his room with a juicy incentive attached (suddenly he's not so tired and the speed and precision with which the shoes are arranged in order of size and color seems effortless with a quirky smile to top it up).

Or when your wife's colleague is like "You've added weight? Why do you look so tired?'. (Not really a question, just a beyond rude observation no one should ever make.)

“Actually, me and hubby were up kind of late last night. But it was sooo worth it.” (Follow up with the best If-you-know-what-I-mean face.)

With pursed lips and arched eyebrows hubby is rummaging through the toolbox... "Dear, the spanner is in the drawer BESIDE the toolbox. You put it there because you always say you use it often and it shouldn't be with the tools you use less frequently. Remember?" (I have a special eye roll for that one) 

Almost every wife has observed that men speak far less than women, but even with all the chit chatter, sermons and lectures from your wife there is even more communication that is not in her words. Interpersonal communication not only involves the explicit meaning of words, that is the information or message conveyed, but also refers to implicit messages, whether intentional or not, which may be expressed through non-verbal behavior subconsciusly.

Non-verbal communications include facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, gestures displayed through body language (kinesics) and the physical distance between communicators (proxemics). These non-verbal signals can give clues and additional information and meaning over and above spoken (verbal) communication. Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, which consists of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. Humans send and interpret such signals almost entirely subconsciously.

It may indicate aggression, attentiveness, boredom, relaxed state, pleasure, amusement, and intoxication, among many other cues.

So two people who are giving each other the silent treatment are communicating with each other.

Poor interaction between spouses is a draining process that can strain any marriage relationship. Regardless of how long a couple has been married, there are times when partners still miscommunicate and hurt each other.However there is always room for growth. It is never too late to improve.

So, if hubby is hungry and is sighing after a long day, it is not the best time to tell him that he didn't complement your new hair do. 

Each spouse can have a different personality, a different background, and bring a different approach to problems. This can come with different role models, separate experiences, and different values growing up.

Communication and understanding need to be in place for each hurdle that couples face. Issues should be addressed as early as they are perceived.

The following points will greatly assist the communication process:
    1. The eyes are the windows to the soul. They display what your heart is feeling. Look deeply into your partner's eyes when you are having a conversation, whether the topic is simple or serious.

    2. Pay attention to your body position and posture. Leaning forward and facing your loved one unconsciously communicates receptiveness and interest. Turning away or staring off into space says you're not really there.

    3. A gentle squeeze of the hand or a touch on the arm while listening to your spouse says that you are hearing him or her and that you empathize.
      Clear, respectful communication can definitely be humbling and challenging at the same time. However, it is a key building block for caring and loving relationships.

      Ijeoma Olujekun

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