Sarah’s Snippets – 3/15/2016
Last week, Snippets focused on verbal communication and being mindful of using words carefully. This week several incidents reminded me of the powerful impact that non-verbal communication can have on others. Gestures such as finger pointing during a discussion, body language such as crossed arms and pursed lips when listening and frozen movements when being questioned, resonate much louder than the words.
Additionally, the mental framework that each person brings to a discussion determines how the conversation will be received and, ultimately perceived. “Framing begins with what you see and how you experience a given situation, and how that influences your behavior.” Joanna Barsh from Centered Leadership. Each person has their own framework, and the power to break free from that blueprint by recognizing their triggers and choosing a different experience.
This makes change appear easy. However, changing ourselves and our framework is an ongoing process that lasts a lifetime, providing one exercises that choice. Part of this challenge of change is that the situations and climate surrounding us may not change. While it may seem that the circumstances have altered, we are completely caught off guard when something happens to indicate that they have not. Our triggers become henceforth rekindled.
One of the powerful non-verbal incidents from the last week appeared racially motivated. What an unpleasant trigger for me and the members of the SALT staff. The re-framing that each of us can do may not change the reality that racial prejudice seems to exist in our community. Prejudice implies that an assumption about another person is made without substantial knowledge. Conclusions are reached and actions taken without any effort to learn more about that person.
When this hurt was inflicted by an individual, the person was deeply frightened. Because it happened within the boundaries of our community, in a broad sense we all share a piece of responsibility around this incident. What each of us tolerates and encourages contributes to the weight of the community atmosphere. As we continue to strive for growth, for sustainability, and for creating a place where new residents, businesses and visitors feel welcome, collectively we cannot allow narrow minded prejudice to stand in the way of the collaborative vision we hold dear.