As a therapist, I know the value of communication. For the past 15 years, I have been helping couples communicate more effectively. Breaking down the barriers of negative communication patterns and replacing them with positive ways to communicate is what I do and what I am passionate about. Couples come to see me for a variety of reasons, many say that the communication broke down in their relationship. Communication is key and knowing the ways to effectively communicate is vital to your relationship for it to thrive. If it is lacking, then the relationship can experience some struggles and feelings of disconnection.
Today, I am going to share some tips about the power of non-verbal communication in a relationship.
Recently, I had a unique experience. I had complete and total laryngitis for 12 days. During this time, along with being frustrated, I became more aware of some things around me. Not being able to talk as a therapist meant I couldn’t work and that was hard for my clients and me. Not being able to talk as a wife and mother was challenging but a learning experience. Part of what I learned is the power of non-verbal communication.
Have you ever played the “silent game” with one of your kids? As parents, we probably play the game to get some peace and quiet for a few moments. Well, these past couple of weeks, I felt like I was playing a long version of the “silent game”, one I prefer not to repeat but it did make me more aware. While having this experience, I had to tap into my non-verbal skills. While I did spend some of my time, writing notes or texting my family (yes, I was texting as they were looking at me and grateful for that tool). I also utilized some examples of non-verbal communication which are: eye contact, frequency of glances, facial expressions, body language and touch.
How does this fit into the way we communicate with our loved ones?
- Eye contact is important as it shows the person you are listening and care. When one person is looking down or away, it could mean that they are disengaging from the conversation as opposed to feeling that your partner is engaged when there is continual eye contact. In my case, with the laryngitis, eye contact was key as my family was waiting for a hand signal or to see me attempting to mouth words.
- Facial expressions can give clues to how the person is feeling. For example: a smile, frown, the look of disapproval or even the tilt of the head can “speak” to your partner.
- Body language also has a unique way of “speaking”. Are your arms crossed and are you closed off to the conversation? Is your partner’s body turned toward you or away? Are one of you slumped in the chair, looking down and disengaging? Or are you both sitting or standing facing each other with an open posture?
- Non-verbal communication can be shown through the act of touch. For example: extra hugs, patting the back, touching the arm, holding hands are all positive signs of touch.
Non-verbal communication can create a closeness and increase understanding. Part of non-verbal communication is not only showing how the “speaker” is feeling but how the “listener” interprets the cues. Non-verbal cues can be misinterpreted and that could cause conflict. Be mindful that your spouse is not a mind reader and even though non-verbal communication can speak loudly, sometimes the cues are missed and it might be an opportunity to ask questions so one can clarify.
I am happy to say that my voice is back!! I want to thank all of my clients for patiently waiting for my voice to return. I want to thank my husband and son for “listening” to all of my non-verbal cues. My voice is something that I am definitely grateful for and I won’t ever take it for granted. We can’t always control our situations but we can control how we react to it. My extended silence was frustrating but what I gained was a powerful way to communicate. I’m not going to give up verbal communication any time soon, but my silver lining is that it is nice to know that there is power and love that can be “listened” to from non-verbal communication as well.
If you and your love one struggle with communicating, go to my home page and click on the Six Secrets to Better Communication in Your Relationship. If you need more support with bringing back the art of communicating into your relationship, contact me, as I am here to help.
Your Relationship Expert,