Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Communication is Key

Whenever I would go out with my girlfriends, way back before electricity, there seemed to be some form of nonverbal communication that would evolve amongst us.  This might have been shrugs, glances, a rolling of the eyes, or a head nod.  This would allow us to hold silent conversations about people around us without being rude.  For example, if a large woman wearing orange stilletto clown shoes came into my visual field, I might get my friend's attention and then lean my head in the direction I want them to look.  We would then share a "OMG" look between us; rejoicing in the fact that neither of us chose to wear our orange stilletto clown shoes that evening.  We could do this sort of thing many times during the course of an evening, nobody else ever noticed, and nobody's feelings were damaged in any way. Life was good. 

Then I got married.  I love my husband dearly, but he has not a subtle bone in his body, and he does not pick up on nonverbal cues at all.  Same situation as above with him,  the first thing my dearest does is say really loudly, "WHY ARE YOU KICKING ME?"  I try to head him off with a head shake, a 'universal' cue to stop. This is followed by, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR NECK?"  Moritifed, I usually turn several shades of red, and am forced to resort to glaring at my sweet darling from across the table.   "WHY ARE YOU MAKING THAT TWITCHY FACE AGAIN? ARE YOU HAVING A SEIZURE?"  My response at that point is both verbal and nonverbal forms of profanity.  I suppose that I should be thankful that he doesn't notice the shoes and start talking loudly about them. 

But how do you teach those sorts of nonverbal cues to someone who never picked them up in the first place?  I've made several attempts over the years, mostly unsuccessful.  An episode of one of my favorite shows, The Middle, had two of the characters working out some nonverbal communication signals between them using those signals normally seen in baseball. I thought that was a great idea.  Unfortunately, I hate baseball, and don't know all of their signals.  My other idea is to create a picture communication book like the one I have for my 2 year old, but instead of pictures of cars and cups and such, it will have pictures of me making faces, shrugging, nodding, winking, etc., with captions underneath indicating what these nonverbal cues mean.  I think that extreme a measure might become necessary, especially during this time of year and the local penchant for thinking that thongs are acceptable shopping attire.  And I'm not talking about the shoes...

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