Picking up and taking off on cue

thumbs upAs if on scripted cue this morning, multiple vees of snow geese flew northward over my house this first day of Spring. How timely, and how welcome a visual herald to the end of a long, snowy winter!

Such connected sequences in nature are both common and obvious. The advent of Spring with its longer daylight cues up many other such cause-and-effect actions: the return of robins, the nesting of bluebirds, the emergence of trilliums, jack-in-the-pulpits, skunk cabbage, trout lilies and other early bloomers, budding maples, and countless other natural responses.

But so many other cued prompts for subsequent actions are not so obvious. Yet when properly understood, they can serve as catalysts for better things. If only we knew what they mean!

For example, I’ve discovered that when Carol says, “Do you want to pick up your clothes off the floor?” she’s not really interested in my wants, like she asked, but in hers. Similarly, whenever she’s interested in knowing if I want to go out for dinner, I tend to thoughtfully agree. After all (as I’ve learned to pick up on her verbal cues) a happy wife means a happy life!

But we all communicate a good bit more than what we say—by what we do not say. According to social psychologist Judith A. Hall, our host of nonverbal cues includes:

  • facial expressions and posture
  • head, body and hand movements
  • self and other-touching
  • leg positions and movements
  • interpersonal gaze, directness of orientation, and distance
  • synchrony or mimicry between people
  • discrete nonlinguistic sounds such as sighs
  • voice qualities of pitch, pitch variation, loudness, tonalities, speed and speed variation
  • interruptions, pauses and hesitations
  • dysfluencies in speech

But the challenge with such cues (be they blatant, subtle or obtuse) lies in accurately observing, discerning, and acting on them. This is especially important in the arena of interpersonal relations, where the ability to positively interpret and respond to a wealth of nonverbal clues can translate directly into such benefits as:

  • happier, healthy relationships
  • stronger and more fruitful collaborations
  • reduced stresses and complications
  • increased social impact and influence
  • enhanced work efficiency and productivity
  • vibrantly thriving communities
  • even a longer, more satisfying and successful life!

Yeah! Who’s not for that!

Unfortunately, not only does this require a highly developed set of social skills, the science itself is quite complex. So I’m no expert. But, in the interest of promoting better communication and building better relationships among everyone, here, according to Kendra Cherry, are 10 tips to improve our nonverbal communication:

  1. Pay attention to nonverbal signals.
  2. Look for incongruent behaviors
  3. Concentrate on your tone of voice when speaking.
  4. Use good eye contact.
  5. Ask questions about nonverbal signals.
  6. Use signals to make communication more effective and meaningful
  7. Look at signals as a group.
  8. Consider context.
  9. Be aware that signals can be misread.
  10. Practice, practice, practice.

(Source: read the whole article)

Take a cue from me: they’re important!

And in the meantime, see how many nonverbal cues from nature you can find that hint at significantly warmer days real soon! Happy Spring!