Thursday, February 10, 2011


We hear more than words.

Under emotional or caffeine overload we may chatter rather than communicate. Our brain, isolated in a fluffy wrap of self-involvement, enjoys its creative “verbalocity.” Concern for the listener is minimal.

We lived across the street from a woman who never completed her thought. She interrupted herself to begin another subject. Her desired result was to control the conversation. She communicated insecurity to me and that is what I remember.

Every church we have served has in its membership two or three—usually men but not always—people who begin any conversation with an aggressive, argumentative comment. Communicating with them must begin with a careful reach around the spears to pat their shoulder, stroke their ego, to achieve a communal position of interest. We may accept them as they are, but we never really like them.

The Dutch term,Stilasmuis,”* embeds a sly connotation into the English description, “poker face”.   This person never expresses his opinion in the Board room or the staff meeting until he has heard everyone else and gets a sense of the prevailing wind. He reveals his position when he can best manipulate the listeners.

Silence communicates. A now-deceased acquaintance controlled her family by moving about her home in cold silence when she was upset. I observed this mean behavior and concluded that her withdrawal opened opportunity for the rest of the family. If she chose to be miserable, the others could choose to ignore her. The woman was upset already so how could another silent day be worse?

Emotive content is especially important with Dementia. Calm and quiet preserves the moment.

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