Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Communicating via posture and expression

Thought for the day: You may move in and out of other careers, but you will likely be a home manager for life. Kathy Peel.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. The good home manager is empathetic to other people. She knows how to rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:5). She is also a fully alive woman and not a robot, so she has deep feelings of her own. So, there will be times in her life when her tears flow freely in response to something and -- we hope more often -- times when her laughter adds a merry note to her household.

A good many moments of our life are spent neither mourning or rejoicing, but pleasantly attending to the moments of our days. It's in these times that we need to watch what our posture, our tone of voice and our facial expressions communicate to others. This begins first of all by controlling our thoughts. Do we dwell on worries, frustrations, and burdens? Or, do we dwell on things that are pure, noble, true, honorable, and lovely? (See Phil. 4:4-8) Recognizing and praying about troubles in life is healthy. Brooding about them is not. If the thoughts of our heart are focused on all things good and lovely, then likely our expressions and our tone of voice will be lovely and good, as well. Even our posture will be affected, for we will most likely stand up straight and walk with a spring in our step. Since practicing cheerfulness begets cheerfulness, we will find ourselves feeling more cheerful if we manage our habits and thoughts well.

Why is this so important for the home manager? Her habits of thought, speech, and posture communicate loudly to our families. Our husbands and children can read in our faces, posture, and tone of voice whether or not we love them and are glad to spend time with them. They will know whether or not we enjoy making a home together with them. We also send this message out into our sphere of influence within the world.

This is even more important as we grow older. Younger women look to see if the choices we have made to love our families are worth it. Also, gravity pulls at both our posture and the lines on our faces. Good habits of keeping our face uplifted with a smile and our posture erect will help us age with more energy, health, and joy. A smile on our face and healthy posture will be more inviting to young women we might be in a position to mentor than a worn-down looking expression and slouching will.

Good posture gives our internal organs room to function. This contributes to health. Equally important as overall posture is dong our best to keep our inner alignment by doing Kegel exercises and/or some type of exercise that works our core muscles.

Mireille Guliano, author of "Women, Work, and the Art of Savoir Faire" offers these words of wisdom for women in the corporate world. She says that upon a first meeting, people will notice your hair, your eyes, your smile, and your shoes. Note that two of these -- eyes and smile -- have to do with our expression. She also advises that you take the time to make proper eye contact with people, as this sends a message that you are interested in who they are and what they have to say.

In his book, "Real Life Discipleship", Jim Putman notes that we live in an age when people give each other what he calls "continuous partial attention". It's not uncommon to see couples eating dinner while simultaneously chatting on their cell phones or texting others. They are in each other's physical presence, but how much communication is really taking place between them. Likewise, within our families, it's so easy to get busy with things -- including time on the Internet -- that family members fail to give each other any moments of full attention. As managers of our homes, we lead our children, at least, by example. We need to make sure that we give our children adequate and full attention when they need it and before we move on to another task. That doesn't mean that you allow your children to interrupt you any time they feel like it, but it does mean that you make sure their needs for full attention are met. One way to do this is to take some time out to meet our spouses and children at eye level and really listen, with all of our attention focused on them. We can give to our families by our smiles, our tone of voice, and our eye focus.

Please note: An acquaintance of mine told me about one young man who learned the importance of good eye contact. However, he lacked a sense of those unspoken social cues we all send, and he overdid the attempt to have eye contact. He spooked everyone by staring at them too intensely. If you're not sure how to make good eye contact, watch someone who does it well and learn from them.

My biggest posture hurdle is not letting my head hang too far forward, which is a common problem in today's world. I also need to work on my expression, and I can squint and look like I'm frowning whenever my eyes become tired. What part of your posture do you want to improve? In what ways are you standing strong and with a feminine manner?

Some helpful links:

1) How to develop poise. (I'll add my 2 cents to what she's written. 1) This helps you think what your posture and your sense of or lack of poise might be communicating. However, you don't want to fall into the trap of spending too much time on this. 2) Poise begins with your heart. Are you trusting and full of faith or worried and anxious? This question has everything to do with our poise.)
2) Personal presentation
3) Prevent back pain with good posture
4) Importance of posture and smile in job interview -- apply to our time at home, as well.
5) Walk This Way

Happy Home keeping!

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