Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt
The ability to translate one language into another is a wonderful thing. I can speak and read just enough German to get me confused, but I wish I had kept up my study of the language after college. Same with Spanish. I had only one year, as a high school freshman, but many things stay in my memory.
I have learned, however, that there are more things than words that need to be translated. Body language is endlessly fascinating to me, partly because I’ve just always been a people watcher and partly because of the work I do.
So many little clues. In marital counseling, if a couple comes in and sit as far apart as possible on the sofa in my office, I know my work is going to be difficult. If they angle their bodies away from each other, there is much anger and distrust, and a whole lot of unforgiveness.
When the counseling is one-on-one, my first clue is how the person sits. If a person perches on the very edge of the sofa, legs clamped tightly together, keeping a tight grip on a handbag or wallet, there is high anxiety and possibly a strong feeling of guilt and fear.
If the person has a hard time raising her eyes to meet mine, she almost always thinks very poorly of herself. This observation leads me to wonder about possible abuse, either past or present, or both.
If the hands are trembling, there is a lot of nervous energy, possibly fear. Breaking point is close, and I need to spend some time helping the person relax and trust me.
If someone sits down, eyes on the ground, shoulders slumped, body inert, hands clasped between the knees, I almost certainly have a case of depression to work with.
However–big however–I cannot assume that my translation of body language is 100% accurate. There can be so much more going on under the surface, and I have been surprised more than once about the real reason behind any particular posture or physical attitude.
It’s a fascinating job.