As a therapist in private practice, one of the most common complaints I hear from couples or family members is “we just don’t communicate well.” Usually, people mean that they don’t communicate well verbally. When this is the case, we generally work on active listening, communicating clearly, using good voice tone, etc. But verbal communication is only one form of communication. What about nonverbal communication?
Nonverbal communication may be stronger than words at times. Consider the teenager’s eye-rolling, or a partner’s sigh, or the delighted eyes of a child. Our behaviors convey our feelings and our intentions. When I was a little girl, it was a big deal to give or receive a May basket. On the first day of May, we made little “baskets” out of construction paper and put garden flowers or treats in them. Then we delivered them to the doorsteps of the recipients, hoping not to be discovered. What was the intention behind that behavior? It was solely to let the recipient know that they were in someone’s thoughts. Quietly, with purpose.
Our world is full of chatter. On my smartphone, I could choose to email, call, text, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or Tweet. Sometimes, it’s nice to silence the chatter. It’s nice to send a smile or a glance to someone, or bring someone a cup of tea, or deliver a May basket of sorts. This spring, as we contemplate growth and new beginnings, think about some new ways that you can communicate your feelings without words, without chatter. I guarantee it will be a worthy experiment.