Nonverbal Social Cues

>> Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recently, I have had several conversations with various people about "nonverbal social cues."  You know, those things we do with our hands and face that tell people without words what we think about what just happened or how we are feeling.

What I have learned recently is that some people are no good at reading nonverbal social clues, and others just take them for granted.  Putting someone who fails to recognize nonverbals into a close relationship with someone who uses them all the time and expects that everyone knows them is a recipe for conflict.

Have you ever thought about nonverbal social cues?  I'll admit, until recently, I never gave them much attention at all.  I just assumed that anyone who missed the obvious frowns, head shakes, or nudges were just being rude or not paying attention.  It never occurred to me that some people didn't "get" nonverbal social cues.  My Darling Husband also has seldom (dare I say never) even thought about this topic at all.  When a mutual friend asked about them one day, DH said, "nonverbal what?"

So, after talking about these sorts of things for awhile, we decided to put our heads together and come up with a little quiz to see how much you know about nonverbal social cues in common family and social situations.  Let's see how well you score.

1.  You are lying on the floor playing a game with your son when your wife throws a box at you from the next room.  What is the message?

A.  She is really mad at me.
B.  She was really aiming for my son and missed.
C.  She wants me to do something with the box.
D.  Nothing.  It was a random act of box throwing, and I don't need to know anymore.

2.  You are standing in a crowded hotel lobby, looking at a sign for directions for your company meeting, when your office mate comes up behind you and strikes up a conversation.  While he is talking, he places his hand on your upper back and gently begins pushing into your back, in the meantime, he takes a step away from you.  What does he want you to do?

A. He is hitting on me!  What do I do?
B.  His wife made him read a book about attachment parenting, and he is confused.
C.  He wants me to walk with him in the direction he is pushing.  He must know which way to go.
D.  It's some new metrosexual thing I don't understand, and I'm going to try to ignore it.

3.  Your son is tugging on your pant leg and saying something incomprehensible.  When you don't respond to his words, he begins pulling on your hand.  What does he want?

A.  He has invited me to wrestle.
B.  He wants me to turn him upside down.
C.  He wants me to come with him to the other room.
D.  I don't have an obligation to answer until he can speak English.

4.  Same as #3, except instead of pulling on your hand, your son is attempting to climb your leg by pulling on your arms and your belt loops alternatively.  What does he want?

A.  He needs to go potty.
B.  He's hungry.
C.  He wants me to pick him up.
D.  "Honey?  What does the kid want?"

5.  Your mother points to a box of batteries that you left on the piano bench, in reach of small children.  Her head is tilted to the side, and she is not smiling.  She says, "You know how I feel about batteries left out in the open."  What does your mother wants you to do with the batteries.

EXTRA CREDIT:  You and your spouse go to your child's teacher-parent meeting. The teacher says your child has trouble with nonverbal social skills. The teacher and your spouse both look at you. Write an essay on what they are thinking.


Okay, how did you do?


Niff and Andy January 11, 2011 at 11:42 AM  

Number 1 is a trick question. We do random acts of box throwing here.

Anonymous January 11, 2011 at 2:00 PM  

I think I did ok... As for the last one....

Brenda January 13, 2011 at 2:10 PM  

*laughing all the way through* Hey ... how do YOU know how my husband responds?!

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