“When We Played Our Charade …”

“If it’s a good move, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was gong on.

Alfred Hitchcock

When we were younger and more innocent, we used to enjoy playing a non-video game called “Charades“.   The basic thrust was that one member of a team would be given a name or phrase.  That person would then, without talking but using their body, face, and gestures, give clues which allowed their teammates to guess that word or phrase.

Great fun for all whether the person was really good at non-verbal communication or whether they sucked at it … actually, the worse the communication, the more fun.

For the other team who were just watching the fun, a particular treat was when the person who knew the word or phrase became frustrated because they felt their gestures were clear and their teammates, which often included a beloved significant other, were just plain stupid and dense.

To see Charades in action, click to watch the game being played on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” with Katie Holmes

So what can we consider about non-verbal communication:


It’s important, because we can not always  to use words to explain and amplify our message.  Sometimes we have to depend on other ways to convey our message.  Every parent of a squirming child in church or at a formal occasion understands this issue.


It’s frustrating because even when both the sender and the receiver want to communicate, they sometimes do not.  This results in negative emotional responses, which often simply add to the miscommunication and confusion.  Motivation or desire to communicate is not enough and may be the cause of further problems.


You have to insure that the receiver of your non-verbal communication understands the meaning of your symbolic gestures and movements.  No amount of hard work or good intentions outweighs lack of common understanding.  A common cultural context can work wonders in facilitating communication. 

By the way, this last one applies equally well to verbal communication.  You have to both agree on the meaning of a word.  Take “is”, for example. Simple English word, but the source of great discussion a few years back regarding its precise meaning.

Polishing up my ability to convey complex meanings though simple hand gestures in the Heartland ….