Sometimes, talking to a teenager is like speaking a foreign language.
Dr Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, conducted several studies related to communication elements and came up with a statistic that ninety three percent of communication is nonverbal.
The other day my teen daughter and I were talking and she gently reminded me that she felt our conversation was not going so well. She stated that it was not the content of the conversation but rather the “nonverbal” vibe she was getting.
My daughter first pointed out that my arms were crossed, which to her felt that I was closed off and not open to listening to her point of view. In actuality, I was cold, however it was her perception to be mindful of.
Next, she stated that at times, my facial expressions seemed unforgiving, “like you are always giving the mom look.” Maybe next time I should position myself so that our living room mirror is behind her so I can be more intentional to lose the “mom look” during meaningful conversations.
Third, my daughter indicated that the tone of the conversation did not feel supportive.
Lastly, she stated that as she became frustrated….(what, a sixteen year old frustrated?) she felt her personal space was not respected. Most people require 18 inches to four feet, depending on the situation, culture and other specifics, this may vary. I still can’t believe she did not want to hug it out!
The way we communicate nonverbally is as important if not more important that the words we choose. The fact that my daughter could identify and articulate her concerns is pretty cool, maybe my teenager and I communicate pretty well after all!