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Words versus Nonverbal Communication

Café-Salon Philosophique #76

February 17, 2001

No. of Participants: 13

Topic for Discussion: "Words versus Nonverbal Communication"

Discussion began with participants sharing ideas for possible topics - "Is there such a thing as good and evil? Do we oversimplify this concept?" "The purpose and meaning of life through words - how are they interpreted?" "How did we communicate before languages?" "Why are there so many different languages?" "Why do some people speak many languages, and others only one or two?"

Tina said, "Before words, there was singing, rhythm, painting and telepathy." "We used our senses more," said Steve. "Remember the miracles of Helen Keller? Even though she was deaf and blind, she learned to communicate through touch which brought her into the world of the seeing and hearing."

"Animals seem to instinctively sense their environment. They don't use words," someone mentioned.

Samuel says, "The written and spoken word has been exaggerated, distorted, parroted, and repeated for centuries."

"So, how did language evolve?"

We first symbolized our experiences with writings on the wall. The invention of the pen, gave us the ability to "name" and "illustrate" what we were thinking. Typesetting created a whole new revolution of how we captured the spoken word on paper.

Bulletins turned into newsletters, newsletters into newspapers, newspapers into books, which turned into more books, which turned into zillions of books! We advanced from the typewriter, to word processing, to the computer!

There are volumes of books which say "nothing." People "parrot" what they have either learned or heard. Not alot of original thought is given to what we are going to say, or how we are going to say it. Original, creative thinking and writing is limited by how we are taught in "the systems."

"So, what happens non-verbally?"

"We communicate through posture, facial expressions, and gestures," said Paula. "Also, by intuition and how we think," Barry added.

Samuel read the following passage:

"If you are like most people, you devote considerably more energy to what you say rather than how you say it. But, do you realize that when you talk to someone, an astonishing 90% of the message one receives is from your body language, or nonverbal communication? Only 10% of the message they receive is from your words."

"This means that 90% of what you communicate is derived from what you do rather than what you say...the gestures you use...what facial expressions you you move your you use you use the space around you...and any other behavior from which others can derive meaning. To ensure that your listener understands your message, your nonverbal behavior must send the same message as your words, otherwise your message will be lost." (4-Page BodySpeak™ Brochure)

He then, mimicked and exaggerated the various postures, facial expressions and gestures of participants. This demonstration really made us more aware of the unspoken power of nonverbal communication. It was a real eye opener and quite comical.

Why is it we learn to suppress, depress and hide our playful, expressive self that we once new as a child? If you observe clowns, kids, or crazy people, they seem to be uninhibited, more playful and spontaneous than your average human. There is a certain freedom in the way they move and express with their bodies.

We then "bounced back" to discussing "words."

We "talked about" how we as a society are overstimulated by words and images. Words beget words. So, how does one escape the bombardment? The over-stimulation?

Barry likes "to meditate." "When you stop moving, the words in your brain seem to stop moving," he said. "There's kind of an architectural change that happens within the structure of your brain while you are meditating." Paula believes "body-centered psychotherapy can help."

"When you are aligned with the light, centered in what you are doing, one can walk sane in the midst of madness," said Samuel. "Essence is beyond words," said Julya.

"What happens is, most people confuse information with knowledge," said Samuel. All information in all books is not knowledge. In most books, the author "parrots" what they have heard or seen from someone else. Real knowledge is living the experience, and understanding. Not reading about it. One can be a great intellectual expert, but there are other levels of knowledge to tap into.

Rick believes there are "good books" out there that one can learn from. For example, "What about the Dalai Lama?" he asked. Tina agreed and felt there were good books out there about spirituality, meditation, etc. "How else is one going to learn about life?" asked Rick.

"Do you really think the Dalai Lama wrote those books?" asked Samuel. That gave everyone a point to ponder. Samuel does not question that learning takes place from books, but rather that books are only just one possible source for information. Good books can be great guides. But, through life experiences is where you realize.

We then "talked about" possible tools which could be used for change, such as, reasoning, intuition, unlearning early programming, and having the intention to change through retraining the mind and body.

Next, question, "The power of words - Who is the one controlling the thoughts?"

Barry and David feels that "subjective interpretation" is the driving force for how we think. "Words can either build or destroy, depending how one receives the message," said Rick.

David wondered, "What ever happened to the use of telepathy?" We seem to use our intuition, but not in a conscious way. The distractions of the world have made us forget our natural senses.

Samuel's grandfather once told him,

"We are born with a certain number of words in our "word bank." If one uses too many words (like overspending too much), it empties our word bank account. We become overdrawn, or in other words - mute. So, when we use words only when necessary, we are practicing word economy."

"Words are only one of the ways to communicate. Ninety-nine percent (99%) of real communication, happens through silence, through body language."

To get away from the practice of "words," Samuel recommends practicing one day of silence a week to achieve the ability to speak less and do more. Also, to "produce more and consume less." Thus, practicing consistently the active wisdom of "Word Economy." ("Teaching Words," by Samuel Avital)

To end our discussion, participants were asked to share what they had learned.

Rae thinks "catastrophes" create change because "one has to change" in the face of a disaster. We all adjust differently according to our perceptions of the situation. This doesn't mean that change is permanent, either. It can be temporary or permanent depending upon the situation, and a person's state of mind.

Tina said she was going to "be more careful" about what she says. She feels as though people can interpret wrongly what is being said, and make their own meaning as to what they have seen or heard. Steve agreed with this.

Sophia is a newcomer to the philosophical discussion and is grateful to have found the group. She feels as though it is raising her level of consciousness.

Rick foresees that we are moving more and more into the computer age. He believes wireless communication and advanced technology are the trend.

Greg sees us as connected to one "greater source." He thinks we all have umbilical cords connected to the great spirit. He enjoyed the discussion group very much and thanked Samuel for his role as moderator.

Our next Café meeting will be held March 10, 2001 at the Boulder Bookstore located at 1107 Pearl St., in Boulder, CO. Start time is 6:30 p.m.

We welcome you to participate. Bring along a new and exciting topic. We look forward to seeing you there....

Reported by Alessandra:

"Samuel brings awareness to the soul of people and gives the artists who work under his direction the need, dedication, and love for the world of silence and the beautiful art of movement."


- Marcel Marceau, BIP 1961

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About LCDS

LCDS is an independent school for self-discovery through the human Arts.  The school offers seminars and workshops teaching the concepts of Theater, Mime, and Movement.