Body Language: Why it Speaks Volumes
The body tells the truth. It is the great revealer – an integral part of the puzzle, a prominent pixel in the big picture.
Too often we focus on words, believing that our verbal communication is the best and most accurate way to share and understand one another. We expect others to explain, discuss, dialogue, and express through those words and, when they don’t, we often find ourselves lost and even frustrated.
The irony in this is that, even when the language is not there, the communication remains. And what is left may be the most effective way of expressing oneself.
Let me explain….
I’ve had the privilege of spending time with individuals – small and grown up- whose words don’t come easily. Some feel but don’t know how to express themselves verbally, some don’t recognize their feelings, some are aware and want to talk but the words get stuck or they come out broken and jumbled. These individuals have been some of my greatest teachers: they have forced me to look below the surface and let go of the words to discover the body.
They taught me to look, to listen, and to feel. Look at what? Listen to what? Feel what? I have learned to look at the subtle movements in their face and the energy patterns throughout their body that tell me they are frustrated, sad, scared, happy. I have learned to listen to their sounds, to their breathing patterns, and even to the noises they make as they move and interact with the material world.
When was the last time you listened to the way someone put a cup down on a table or listened to the sound of their footsteps? When is the last time you listened to how they closed a door or turned the pages of a book? When is the last time you listened to how they ran up stairs or typed on a computer?
The body doesn’t lie, not even subtly. It gives clues. It speaks to you when mouths remain closed. It says, “I am angry, I am frustrated, I am confused, I am in awe, I am grateful”. And it says, “I am powerful.”
A long time ago, I became aware that there was energy moving between myself and others, but I assumed it was just mine. My own activation. As I have delved into the world of neuroscience and interpersonal neurobiology, I have learned that the energy between two people is a shared experience thanks to the resonance circuits that exist around and in between us. I have learned to deeply trust this. And that has shown me how to feel people.
I once interacted with an individual who wanted to verbally communicate but had a hard time speaking. Some diagnosed him as being on the autism spectrum. He was an incredibly aware individual, but talking didn’t come easily. As we interacted, I went below the words and watched him. His body, his movements, and his sounds elicited a feeling in me, a deep understanding of the felt sense of his inner world. It was a world that, by normal standards, would be hard to access.
But, there it was: the truth. It was right in front, engaging with me. I shared with him my experience as we interacted and, at one point in complete amazement, he looked at me and – in that rare moment – the word flowed easily.
“How did you know?” he asked.
“I feel you, as your body speaks so beautifully,” I replied.
Words are simply one part of the information we hold. The body knows how to communicate the story. It is the ultimate truth teller – authentication without conversation, substance without speech. And it deserves to be heard.
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