“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 ….



Three “Simple” Steps to Real Listening …

“Everyone hears what you have to say.  Friends listen to what you say.  Best friends listen to what you don’t say.”


Ever had  a relationship where the other person understood what you were not saying?

… A relationship where silence was okay, because you were linked enough to not have to use words to convey your mood or siutation?

If “Yes”,  lucky you:)

Really listening to someone as active listening asks us to do, is hard work.

1)  Empty your mind

In other words, forget about what you want to say.   Minimize or eliminate distraction.   Just listen.

Never underestimate the power of focused attention to another person.

2)  Hear the words and the meaning behind them

Once you have emptied your mind of things that get in the way, you can concentrate on the words chosen to convey some message and the images that come from those words.

Words are not generic … each has a specific meaning, based on the person’s background, culture, and emotional state.  Pay attention and analyze what words they choose and the tone in which they use those words.

3)  Hear the silence and the words not chosen

This is the most difficult, but is also the source of the greatest insight.

Think about what was said and look for the missing pieces.  Try this:  

If you were talking about the topic, what would you include?

What did you expect to hear that you did not?

How congruent is their tone with their word choices?

Well, this is actually the easy part … once you hear the unspoken words and feel the underlying emotion, then you have to respond accordingly.

…. Tomorrow.

Trying to listen beyond the sounds in the Heartland ….


This Is My Life …

“My life is my message.

Mahatma Gandhi    Mahatma : Life of Gandhi 1869-1948 (1968) Reel 13    Response to a journalist’s question about what his message to the world was.

Sigh … I am already tired just thinking about trying to compare my life to that of Gandhi.  He’s ahead in the running, if you did not already know.

I recently made a fairly obvious pain of myself in a meeting.  The reasons  included some valid stress from the illness of a loved one and some rather immature jealousy of another person.

Whatever the reasons, my behavior was poor.  I was testy and somewhat confrontational, with a touch of “miffed” thrown in.

Whatever my reasons, what others saw was how I acted and how I interacted.

In the world of psychology, the term “incongruence” seems to fit this best.  My behaviors did not fit the image I have of myself.

I sense a clear and simple message here from Gandhi:

1)  What you do matters

Your actions are important, since they are the outward manifestation of what you believe important and worth your energy and time.

2) Others are aware of what you do 

Other may not know what you think or how you feel, but they can see what you do.  Your choices and decisions which result in action are there for others to see and judge.

3)  You will be remembered for what you do

Images make strong impressions.  What actions are you taking every day that will stick in people’s memories?

So the real question is this:

What message are your actions sending to others?

Trying to act in a more admirable fashion in the Heartland ….


It’s All A Matter of Perspective …

A man and his son are listening to the radio after supper.  The son says “Dad, tell me again how you had to walk all the way across town in all kinds of weather to get to school every day.”

A man and his son are watching television when the kid says Hey, Dad, tell me again how when you were my age you had to walk all the way across the room to change the channel.”

A man and his son are at Starbucks playing a MMOG?  on their phones when the son pipes up “Dad, tell me again about when you were young and had to actually plug a cord into the wall to go online.”

So what’s YOUR son or daughter going to ask you about the “good old days”?

Reminiscing and being laughed at for my trouble in the Heartland ….


Live By The Sword, Do You …?

“He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.”

Jesus Christ     The Bible, The Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 26, verse 52   From great-quotes.com:  The King James Version translation reads, “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword,” and was spoken to Peter.

It’s about choices and consequences, isn’t it?

Unless we become professional soldiers, most of us do not face this literal choice … at least, not directly.

In our personal lives, we do face choices that determine how we live.   Those choices in turn create actions, which result in outcomes.

… and easy to see, when we use the concept of a violent lifestyle.

… not as easy to see when we are talking about our more routine or even mundane choices of behavior and allegiance.

Here’s some other swords we might be choosing …

A belief that people are inherently lazy, except for me and a few select others.  

This results in management by fear and threats, or motivation based on your values and not those of the people you would motivate.  You also develop a really poor reputation with your fellow workers, which makes working together effectively almost impossible.

The attitude that only formal learning and education should be recognized as a sign of intelligence.  

If other ways of knowing are not recognized or valued, you lose the opportunity to learn in those ways, along with discounting those who do so, resulting in the loss of their contributions.  You have also doomed yourself to a lifelong “paper chase”, which often results in disappointment.

The assumption that competitive spirit is more valuable than compassion or collaboration.  

Viewing the world as “dog eat dog” results in constant vigilance, distrust, and relationships marked by score-keeping and combat.  This is one exhausting way to live, as well as making you prone to misjudgments and errors, as you misinterpret other’s words and actions.

The perception that what we know from the past is better than what we do not know of the future.  

The consequence of this is that we live anchored to the past, trying resurrect something that is no longer there, and miss what might be.  Traditions and history are to be valued, but not to govern.  Humans fear what they do not know, so this is natural to an extent.  When it makes us unable to move forward and thrive, it becomes unnatural.  

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” as Aristotle so nicely puts it.   What we repeatedly do is based on our attitudes and assumptions, which carry consequences.

What perceptions affect your behavior and decisions?

Are you willing to live and die by them?

What “swords” should you put back their sheath?  What “swords” should you throw far, far away?

Staring at the blood from the cut on my hand from one of my “swords” in the Heartland ….