For years we have been told that you can find out a lot about a person by their non-verbal communication…body language. Basically it is their physical behavior in any situation, as opposed to what they say about it. Things like facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch, and the use of space are key ways to tell if someone is lying, angry, or excited. Body language exists in both animals and humans, and anyone who has come up on a mother bear or a moose, can tell you. Believe me, I hope that none of my readers have found themselves in that situation.
I have always been told things like…when you are being interviewed, don’t cross your arms, because it makes you seem closed off, as well as, that it is a nervous habit to play with your hair, but I happen to know that things aren’t always so cut and dried. Anyone who knows me knows that if my arms are crossed over my body…I’m cold. And if I am playing with my hair, it isn’t because I’m nervous, but rather it is just something I like the feel of. Basically, I think that while body language is an effective tool. it isn’t the only way, and sometimes not even the best way to read a person. Body language isn’t a spoken language, and so must be interpreted broadly, instead of having an absolute meaning corresponding with a certain movement, which explains why my movements can be misleading.
Body language is even more difficult, in that, interpretations can vary from country to country, or culture to culture. Some experts aren’t even sure that body language is universal. Body language is a subset of nonverbal communication, and really complements verbal communication in social interaction. Just think of how often you find people who can’t tell a story without using their hands…and their hands aren’t even saying anything specific. They are simply a gesture designed to clarify the story. Some researchers would say that nonverbal communication accounts for the majority of information transmitted during interpersonal interactions. It helps to establish the relationship between two people and regulates interaction, but beware, because it can be ambiguous, as seen in my own crossed arms not indicating being closed off, but rather cold. Facial expression is extremely important when expressing emotions through the body. If the body is saying one thing, and the face is saying another, maybe the person has something to hide, or the story they are telling is a lie. Combinations of eyes, eyebrow, lips, nose, and cheek movements help form different moods of an individual.
Some studies show that to really interpret emotions, both facial expression and bodily language must be taken into account. Behavioral experiments have also shown that “recognition of facial expression is influenced by perceived bodily expression. This means that the brain processes the other’s facial and bodily expressions simultaneously.” Participants in these studies were accurately able to judge emotions based on facial expression. This is because the face and the body are normally seen together in their natural proportions and the emotional signals from the face and body are well integrated. Things like a lack of crinkles around the eyes would suggest a fake smile. At one point, researchers believed that making a genuine smile was nearly impossible to do on command. I hadn’t thought about that, but it makes sense. When you’re smiling joyfully, they crinkle. When you’re faking it, they don’t. If someone’s trying to look happy but isn’t, you won’t see wrinkles.
I find it quite interesting to study the different interpretations that have been place in body language, and I think that many of them are probably pretty close to accurate, but it’s always a good idea to keep an open mind when it comes to body language. When we are too quick to make a judgment, we can find ourselves realizing that we were completely in the wrong in our interpretation of non-verbal communication.
Recently, my cousin, Shirley Cameron shared a post of Facebook about eye color. The post was simply about green eyes being rare, but Shirley posted that her eyes change color according to her moods, something that has to be more rare than green eyes. She stated that they change from blue to green to gray depending on the mood she is in. If they are blue she is happy, green she is really angry, and gray she is feeling pretty neutral. Now, I don’t know how many people out there have eyes that change color like that, but I suddenly found out that it tends to run in my family. I have always known that my own eyes change color like that, although I had not associated the changes with my moods before. That might be something to look into…no pun intended. My grandson, Caalab Royce has eyes that change color that way, but I think he is the only one of the kids.
I was very excited to see that post, and I told Shirley, that mine do that too. I suggested that it must run in the family. No sooner had I said that, than our cousin, Shawn Fredrick posted that his eyes do that too. Well, now I was really intrigued. If it runs in the family, then it must be from our Spencer/Schumacher background, because all four of us have that in common. That said, I have to wonder how many of the other too numerous to name cousins from that family have this same trait. Of course, I hope that with this writing, we may find out the answer to that question. We often think of our parents, grandparents, and sometimes even further back in our family histories when we look in the mirror and wonder who we really look like. We compare similarities, such as nose, eye color or shape, chin, hair color, build…well, the list goes on, but you get my point. Still, one trait that is difficult to see in a photograph, is eye color changes. That is something that has to somehow be brought up in a conversation before the reality jumps out at you, that you may not be unique in this trait. That was the kind of revelation that came to me when Shirley posted that remark about her eyes. This trait must be in the genes, because there are at least four of us that have eyes like that!!
I’m used to being told by people that my eyes change colors. I have been told that much like a chameleon, my eyes match my clothing or surroundings. I have even been asked if I wear colored contacts to achieve those eye color changes…the answer by the way, is no. And I knew that my grandson’s eyes changed colors, but somehow, I didn’t think any further back than that. Really!! How strange is it that I, a serious genealogy buff, who has come across multiple look alikes between modern day and ancestral family members, never thought about where this unusual trait might have come from. Of course now, as it would have been then, I wouldn’t know where to start. As I said, pictures don’t reveal eye color changes. That said, I guess that all I can do is to see how many cousins have this same trait, and which side of the family they come from. Of course, even if we find out it is from one or the other, the fact remains that we would then need to go to the next couple and see which side of that line it comes from. I’m sure you, like I agree that this is a daunting task, with very little chance of getting very far, but as is the case with most of genealogy…you just have to put the knowledge you do have out there, and see what will come from it.
There’s just something about watching old home movies…I mean the really old ones…from when you were kids, that is not only funny, but enlightening. While watching some old home movies from Bob’s family, one thing that I have noticed is that there are lots of people who don’t know how to act when they are being filmed. Some of them get nervous or embarrassed. They try to hide from the camera. Some people even get mad about being filmed, and what I found really funny about that is that one of those people who got mad, was Bob’s sister, Jennifer!! And she was only about 3 years old at the time. Even at that young age, she didn’t like being filmed, and she was clearly telling the person behind the camera just that. She tried to go in the house, but couldn’t open the door, so she turned around and started shaking her finger at the camera, and the look on her face clearly told the story…”I am not in the mood to have you film me!!”
Brenda, on the other hand, at just 1 year old, didn’t mind being filmed at all, because she was just too busy learning to walk. She toddles toward the camera with a great big smile on her face. Clearly she has no idea that she is being filmed. All she knows is that she love the camera’s operator. Like all kids who are learning to walk, Brenda takes a few unsteady steps and the plops down on the ground. The she gets back up and tries it again. At one point, Jennifer who has decided that helping her sister is more important than not wanting to be filmed, decides to help her little sister learn the walking ropes. She is learning that being filmed isn’t so bad after all, because she smiles and even poses for the camera.
A little later in the movies, the youngest child, Bob’s brother, Ron arrives. Everyone is so excited about having a baby in the family again, and everyone wants to hold him. He is passed back and forth from sibling to sibling, being a good sport about it all. Maybe that is where he got the nickname he carried for all the years I have known him…Sport. I suppose, being the youngest child, and having four older sisters, one might have to be a good sport just to survive, because as we all know, big sisters can be very bossy.
The children aren’t the only ones who don’t know exactly how to take the whole filming event either. Moms and dads, aunts and uncles, and even grandparents, dodge the camera, tying to hide behind anything form the house to the clothesline pole, and one person even slapped at the person trying to get her into the picture. How funny that these days we take self portraits with our cell phones, and when someone is filming a video, we start everything from posing to dancing to making faces. I guess we have come a long way since those early old home movies days.
When you are taking a picture of a kid, you just never know what you are going to end up with. Kids show their emotions as they appear, and you can just deal with what they are feeling at the time, or just don’t bother taking the picture. Before the days of digital photos, you couldn’t even be sure if what you were getting…especially when it came to how fast the facial expressions of kids can change.
While my oldest daughter, Corrie was usually quick to smile, and pretty cooperative, my youngest daughter, Amy was more the take it or leave it kid. Those pictures could be so funny. Corrie was smiling, and you wondered who pinched Amy. Their kids seemed to follow suit too. Corrie’s oldest child, Christopher was all smiles, while Amy’s daughter, Shai can come up with some amazing take it or leave it shots.
I know lots of people would think that those angry faced shots would be something you would purge from the camera as worthless, but if you wait to delete them for a while, you might find that you really like those pictures too. They show the ways of children. Kids are so honest about there feelings and their moods. They don’t care if people see them crying, pouting, or angry, they just feel what they feel and you get to deal with the outbursts.
What I have found as I have looked at those grouchy pictures, is that after that frustrating moment lacking in cooperation is over, those grouchy faces can be very funny. I don’t suppose the child would think so…at least not at the time, but as they grow up, and especially after they have children of their own, they can appreciate just how funny those shots can be. So the next time you are tempted to delete a picture of your child that is sporting a grouchy face, wait a while, and try to look at that picture after the moment of frustration has passed, and see if you don’t think, as I did, that that grouchy face just might be the one you was as your wallpaper on your cell phone or computer, because it has a way of putting a smile on your face.