In Drama at school I am teaching a unit on The Theatre of Silence. I wrote about it last year here (Shhh):
This week we talked about non-verbal communication and I quoted the statistic from Daniel Goleman’s “Emotional Intelligence” about 90% or more of emotional communication being non-verbal.
I talked about the power of tone, body language, facial expression and gesture and even touched on smell and pheromones.
And I then went on to talk to them about the fact that when I was their age, there were basically three ways in which I could communicate with another person.
I could do so face to face, in the room together, with the full power of my verbal and non-verbal capacities.
I could do so in a handwritten letter, such as the one I wrote to my beloved Grandma, who lived 100 miles away in Bognor, on an almost weekly basis.
And I could use the telephone, which was fixed in the corner of our very public hallway. Normally when I did this, my dad would be in the background listening in and commenting things like “that’s MY bill” or “can’t you wait til after six?” or “you have been with her all day and she lives across the road; what more can you possibly have to say?”
No mobile phone at 24 hr disposal.
No Snapchat/Facebook/instagram/Tumblr/online gaming…..
Of course, all of these can be a power for great good and enhance communication.
I told my pupils that I personally love to text, to blog, to be in chat groups and that online connections have massively opened up the world to me.
But I also reminded them that the technology has moved on far more quickly than our brains, biology and emotions and that we need to remember that words in electronic format can never show the full intent, emotion and humanity of the person in the room who wrote them.
And that having the words but not the in-the-room communication of 500 online friends may lead to a lot of noise, pressure and overload… without the human emotion, love and connection that just one real-life friend could offer.
If we are using words more than ever to communicate, where has the other 90 plus percent of what we COULD be saying gone?
And after this discussion?
We took away the words and watched some Laurel and Hardy.