What we say without words

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Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios
Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios

How many of you have been hurt by something someone said to you without words?

To get you started, I’ll provide a couple personal examples:

Growing up, I was always taller than most kids my age; with my height, came big feet.  Although I’m now in my early 60s, I still remember how it felt at approximately thirteen years of age when, while standing in line at a movie theater, an adult looked me up and down and then focused on my feet.  She turned to her companion, nudged her, laughed, and held her hands apart, as though measuring the size of my feet.  How do you think a gangly self-conscious young teenager felt about that situation?

As a manager for an assisted living/dementia care facility, I wore many hats – especially since the executive director of the facility was extremely ineffective as that building’s director.  One day I found myself rushed beyond all measure and needed to get in touch with the Health & Wellness Nurse whom I knew was in the secured dementia wing of the building.  I entered that wing at full-bore, with single-purposed intent, ignoring the dazed residents I passed in the hall, leaving a wake of distressed residents behind me.  One of those residents somehow caught up with me and grabbed my arm, “What’s going on?  Is there an emergency?  Do we need to evacuate?  Will you help us?”  Shame on me.  Without a word, I caused aggravation in someone who was the unfortunate recipient of my careless behavior.

How many of you have spoken volumes to someone without saying a word?  Did you speak love, patience and comfort, or intolerance, annoyance, and anxiety?

Which would you prefer to receive?

Which would you prefer to offer?

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