I chose to do an observation on myself for Nonverbal Listening. I had a conversation with two different people on two different occasions. The conversations were with my husband Scott, and a long time friend Kim, whom I do not see very often. Scott and I went out to dinner at a restaurant a few days ago and we were there for a little more than an hour. The main topic of our conversation was about how he felt to be back home after being deployed by the Army, to Afghanistan for a year. Kim and I met for lunch at Panera Bread Cafe last week.
We only had 30 minutes together because she was on her lunch break from work. The topic of our discussion was about her marriage. The conversation between Scott and I made me feel several different emotions and I found that my nonverbal listening behavior was negative and positive. When he hesitated, looked around, and then smiled to answer my question of how it felt to be back home, I was unsure of how he felt and it made me concerned and upset. I was leaning toward him with a frowning face and squinting my eyes.
His body language gave me an immediate assumption that he was unhappy or hiding his feelings. I snapped at him for an explanation. At this time he laughed, leaned toward me, held my hands, and looked directly in my eyes to explain his mixed feelings of feeling happy to be home and at the same time feels like a stranger in his surroundings. This response surprised me and made me feel relieved and happy. Then I began to smile and look directly into his eyes for long periods of time as we spoke. I thought my nonverbal behavior was appropriate.
I behaved and reacted in two different ways due to the body language Scott used with and without words. At first, I was confused and unhappy and once I heard his verbal reaction, I felt at ease and the body language he used suddenly gave me a whole different impression and my body language changed. During my conversation with my friend Kim, I found that I was initially excited to see her and catch up on her life. We hugged, had direct eye contact, and we were both leaning forward at the table towards each other.
Later, my emotions changed due to the news that things were not going so well in her marriage. At this time, we were both engaged in a serious conversation and I found myself frowning and squinting my eyes. I was sad and concerned that things were not going well for Kim and I was listening carefully to understand everything she was saying. At the time my body language matched up with my emotions as the conversation flowed and my behavior was appropriate.
I am comfortable with the control of my gestures and direct eye contact since I have taken several classes which have taught me how to behave with these mannerisms. I need to work on my facial expressions so I can appear to be more confident while I am speaking. I realize that I do not need to show certain facial expressions to indicate what I am thinking about on the inside. An example of this is: a furrowing in my brow and squinting my eyes. I plan to control these facial expressions with the help of my family.
I am going to focus on this and I have also asked my family to bring it to my attention every time I squint my eyes or furrow my brow. I think with a constant reminder and focus on these actions it will help me to control these expressions, and improve the way people see me. I will follow up with my family for the effectiveness periodically and document my progress. This exercise has shown me that a specific form of body language can give a different reaction with and without verbal communication and therefore I can be viewed differently than intended.