Eye contact: Maintaining eye contact is important; however, overdoing it can be disconcerting. Use eye contact to let the person know you are paying attention to them.
Body movements and posture: The straighter you carry yourself, the more confident you seem. This will inspire confidence in others as well. In addition, closed-off body language, such as crossed arms, signals to others that you are not interested in interacting with them.
Voice: We communicate with our voices, even when we are not using words. Tone, pitch, volume, inflection, rhythm and rate are important communication elements. When we speak, other people “read” our voices in addition to listening to our words.
Facial expressions: Unlike some forms of non-verbal communication, facial expressions are universal. Relaxing your muscles into a smile will not only relax the people around you, but will subconsciously tell your mind you are happy as well.
Proper eye contact and tone of voice often are extremely important in creating life-long relationships and friendships because they are an integral part of conflict resolution. Therefore, if a person has trouble both exhibiting non-verbal communication and understanding the non-verbal signals of others, they are more likely to have trouble making and maintaining long term relationships. While this can seem insignificant for children in school, non-verbal communication is extremely important, especially when a person enters the parsha of shidduchim. Without this important aspect of communication, many young adults struggle when trying to find their bashert.
For many of us, non-verbal communication is something we pick up at a young age and continue to develop as we grow. For others like Chaim, and people who are socially awkward, distinguishing the non-verbal cues of others is quite difficult. For this reason, Dr. Jeanne Segal explains in her book The Language of Emotional Intelligenceit is very important to use perfect non-verbal skills to ease conflict and stress.
Remain relaxed and focused in tense and intense situations: If you don’t know how to stay centered and in control of yourself, you may become emotionally overwhelmed in challenging situations and give off the wrong impression.
Read non-verbal cues through role-playing. Evaluate the person you are speaking to in terms of eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, posture, intensity, timing and pace. Modify your own behavior in accordance with how you want them to react.
Be playful in tense situations.You can avoid many confrontations and resolve differences by using humor and a playful attitude. Smiling and laughing signal to those around you that you are interested in harmony rather than discord.
“Do you want to split your sandwich with me, Chaim?”
“I don’t know. Maybe you want something different?”
“Why would I want something different? I’m fine.”
“Okay. Do you want some of my chips?”
“Your chips? Why would I want some of your chips? I have some of my own.”
“Forget it, Chaim.”
Done with Judaic Studies classes, Chaim’s class headed down to the lunchroom to enjoy their bagged lunches. After recess, lunchtime was Chaim’s second worst part of the day. Lunch required finding a person to sit with and chat with, two activities Chaim was sorely lacking in.
What makes some kids more popular than others? How do you know if your child is playing alone at recess? Should you get involved or should you let your child figure it out on his or her own? These are questions that come up for most parents and there are no simple answers. However, before we answer whether you should get involved, let’s discuss whether children really need friends as they develop.
In an article in The New York Times, Lawrence Kutner explains, “People assume that a child with many friends has better social skills and is more emotionally mature than a child with few, and that having no friends is a sign of a serious problem.” We often think that if our children are not the center of a large group of friends this means they are not well adjusted, but Kutner clarifies, “studies of how and why children develop friendships at different ages show that these assumptions are often false. The child who has one or two friends might be more socially skilled than the child who has many friends. The child who, for a brief period, has no friends might be perfectly healthy and socially adept.”
About the Author: An acclaimed educator and social skills specialist, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at email@example.com.
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