Thursday, October 25, 2007


Through nonverbal communication, observation, we can tell quite a bit about one another from a comfortable and safe distance. That permits us to avoid some folk that we don’t think we would care to know and allows us to approach others that seem to be appealing to us. The problem with nonverbal communication is that it is ambiguous and we don’t really know how much they weigh, how tall they really are or that they really have an education. We can only apply what we have learned through experience over the years. Unfortunately it is still ambiguous.

We’ve all heard, if not said, that you can’t tell a book by its cover. We could add that we’ve seen movie trailers that indicated that the movie was going to be hilarious. When we went to the movie we discovered that we had seen all the funny parts in the trailer. With this thought in mind, how can we help those that we want to be attracted to us to approach us so that we can begin to reduce their ambiguity . . . or answer they’re questions more precisely? First we attract their attention, usually nonverbally and hope that they want to follow-up on their curiosity.

Then comes the more difficult part: self-disclosure. You know a great deal about yourself and could talk for literally hours about yourself and that would not be wise. Instead, you must employ some critical thinking while you’re talking to the other person. In many ways conversation is negotiation. You tell me a little and I’ll tell you a little (reciprocity.) I’ll probe, with a well placed question, areas that are of particular interest to me and you will do the same. After a period of time, we are beginning to build a skeleton of knowledge about one another. Please be aware that this should take some time. Also, be aware that you should keep the amount of information shared fairly short at first.

Beware of information overload. When you talk for a long period of time and expect that the other is going to recall everything you’ve said you’re wrong. They will be like you and selective about what they recall. Probably both of you will recall the good stuff, things you really wanted to hear. Many shorter conversation mingled with activities is a good plan. Churches, social clubs, mutual interests and projects allow the two of you to observe (nonverbal) on another while thinking about the things that you are already aware of. Be aware, this takes time. Moving quickly in human communication indicates trouble ahead. Take your time and that means you’ve made time to communicate.

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