“A good listener hears what you do not say.” -Unknown

One of my communication professors once said, “You cannot not communicate.” I found this odd, because in my mind, I could shut my mouth whenever I pleased and put an end to any conversation. However, by simply staring into my eyes with her look of definite supremacy, this professor of mine showed me that I was terrifically wrong; communication is not limited to mouths and ears.

I’ve learned that body language and gestures say worlds more than our simple utterances ever could. Take, for example, a hug which says without speaking a word, “I care for you, I am here for you, and I think your hygiene is so great that I am willing to touch you.” Or consider a scowl, which expresses, “I am angry and displeased and probably forgot to brush my teeth.” A blank stare says either, “I am sorry, where am I?” or “You have got to be kidding me right now.” A shining smile expresses true happiness better than saying, “I am happy” ever could. Even with sealed lips, closed eyes, and a bag over the head, a person is communicating to the world by symbolically saying, “Leave me alone.”

Our actions and expressions truly do speak. Undoubtably the spoken word plays a huge role in effective communication, but we cannot forget the importance of body language. Oftentimes, the deepest levels of communication occur in a grin, a tear, a knowing nod, a look of despair, or a hopeful thumbs up. Even silence can have an important message to convey.

So let’s be careful not to let our ability to hear deafen us to the things that are unheard, nor our ability to speak hinder us from expressing ourselves in various ways. Let’s learn to listen not only with our ears but with our eyes. Let’s speak not just with our mouths but with our hugs, smiles, winks and nods. We cannot stop communicating, so let’s learn to continually communicate well.


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