Earlier this year I wrote about the passing of my father-in-law.
In that post, I mentioned nonverbals as something we teach here at work that you really can use everywhere you go.
Call it body language, signals, or cues, from how you approach someone in the first place to how you show your acceptance and empathy when you get there, the nonverbals you project can make a huge difference in the outcome of the situation.
Even if it’s just holding someone’s hand as they lie in a hospital bed.
Something like this.
Here’s another way to look at this:
Behavior is communication.
We say that phrase a lot around here too.
Just as you should be watching your own body language, pay attention to what the other person is showing you.
Most of this we pick up without even thinking about it, but when you take the time to observe, you’ll see tons of visual cues that help you know what the other person is feeling or intending.
But not this!
Okay, great. So what do I do about it?
The best answer I can give is…to send you elsewhere!
I thought this was a great post written by a friend and colleague, aptly titled “Behavior is Communication.” The subject is dementia, but I find that most if not all of these tips work for different situations.
Take the pledge!
“I cry out wanting only for my mother to hold me, as when I was a young child, and comfort me as I snuggle into her arms. I want her to reassure me, that everything will be okay.” – Lisa Hirsch, “Alzheimer’s – My Mom My Hero”
“I am hoping some day I might be some help for someone that has a loved one going through this. I have lived the nightmare of what this disease does.” – Geraldine
There are heartwarming stories too, from these caregivers I encounter every day online. I had someone write in telling me she was happy just to hear her mom yelling at the TV again after a month of silence. I’ve had people in tears because their mom or dad started singing to an old favorite song when they hardly speak at all anymore.
Being a 24/7 caregiver is extremely hard, yet people do it, and still manage to see the good times and hold on to them when they happen.
That’s why I took this pledge to be part of what we’re calling a Dementia Capable Society: It’s an important step, and not just for family or professional caregivers. Alzheimer’s and related dementias show no sign of stopping, and at some point will touch all of us.
We need awareness, we need passion, and we need to get people the skills and training they need to help. Be part of the solution: Help create a Dementia Capable Society.
I came back from lunch to an unexpected voice mail: A fan of our Dementia Care Facebook Page had called up our toll-free number to find me. I listened to the message, talked it over with my mentor, and called her back.
Her mother had passed away from dementia in 2011, and the Alzheimer’s Society where she lived had been exceptional in their care of both her and her mother, including setting up a respite services program.
She and her mother had been exceedingly close, and she missed her every day. She started a small business and Facebook Page so she could donate a portion of her proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Society, both to thank them for their care and to help them help others going through the same thing.
She asked if I’d mind if she posted a link to her Page on my Page in the hopes of directing potential customers her way. She understood if she couldn’t, that we as a business had to be careful about endorsing other businesses.
She just didn’t know, she said, anything about advertising or getting people to know her page existed, and she so hoped to be able to help out the place that had helped her so much.
I said yes. It was that simple to me. From her taking the time to ask me in person (as it were) to her heartbreaking and heartwarming story, I had no problem with her posting on my page, and I told her so.
The gratitude in her voice nearly overwhelmed me.
Not long after, I received this message from her through my Page: “Thank you Becky. You are very sweet. So nice talking to you. Let’s keep in touch.”
All I did was listen and radiate sympathy and support. At the time I didn’t think I did much of anything, really. Yet somehow this meant a lot to her, and finding that out made me feel good—very good.
Without even knowing it, I had done an act of kindness.