Communication in and of itself is a huge topic with many layers and parts. Something interesting to consider is that language can be observed and not always spoken. You would be amazed at how many small, nonverbal cues that we display to others in everyday conversation and banter. Our facial expressions, eye contact (or lack of), and how we place our bodies during conversation, are all examples of ways that we are communicating.
Think about the thing we talk about with others that we looooove doing when out and about in public. Yes, people watching! Next time you find yourself gazing at others as they go about their day to day lives and spend time with one another, pay attention to their bodies. Do you notice a couple out to dinner together both scrolling away on their cell phones, gazing down and detached? Do you notice two friends sitting in a park together, turning their bodies inward to one another, giving a high five or holding hands as they laugh? How about two business professionals standing in a coffee shop, looking at everything but the other person with their arms crossed or turning away? These interactions can tell us lots of information, such as the quality of the connection these individuals have.
It is important to consider that body language can have a big stake in how we shift our worldview, how we feel about relationships, and our own self worth and confidence. We are all human beings and we thrive when we feel connected to our world. The simplest display of attention, such as a smile to a person passing in the hallway or putting your things down to give a hug to a loved one who had a hard day can truly shift a person's perspective.
I challenge you now to think about your own body language. Do you touch your hair a lot when you are nervous during a conversation? Do you make eye contact when a loved one is telling you about a highlight of their day or is your attention elsewhere? Do you turn inward with your body when sitting with someone, or outward because you do not feel connected or trusting of this person? Does your body tense up in conversations that are difficult and are you aware that others can feel that? Something that really helped me to clue into my own body language was having to film myself in graduate school practicing therapy and again in a leadership training providing fictional supervision to someone. It may feel silly to film yourself having conversations, but I assure you it is quite an eye-opening experience.
The moral of the story here is that there are many ways aside from the things we say to one another that provide messages and meanings. I am sure there have been times where you have felt shut out by someone and not because of something they have said. Or, on the other hand, times where you've felt completely engulfed in a conversation and don't even pay attention to what's happening around you because it's THAT. GOOD. What was the difference between those times? I recommend asking yourself the questions I raised here and examine more closely the body language that you experience from others as well as the body language that you have control over. Think of a small way you want to shift your body language to show your presence, attention, and attunement to the ones you love. It will change the entire experience on both sides!
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