Do you know that awkward moment, when you didn’t hear what somebody has said, so you smile and hope it wasn’t a question?
Everyone can admit to zoning out now and then while in a conversation. Your mind is somewhere else.
After brain surgery, it becomes a whole new ballgame. You are not thinking of something else, you have actually gone blank. Whatever is being said is just a person moving their lips. You are doing your best to focus, but it is like your brain has just pressed the pause button.
I learnt very fast after surgery that body language is a great way to get back onto the subject. Okay yes, you may get caught out now and then when the person you are talking to asks a question and you feel very uncomfortable as you have no true idea what they just asked you.
Isn’t it a shame that we miss out on conversations because we can’t keep up or understand. That makes us feel a bit silly and we don’t really want to be there.
I still struggle with this myself 10 years after surgery. If I am tired then it is even harder. I have become very good at mirroring peoples body language. I get the gist of what is being said, and if I am really struggling and my brain has switched off, I ask people to repeat themselves.
This wasn’t easy at first. I didn’t want people to think I was stupid. I didn’t want people to look at me differently. It took time for me to be comfortable with my new me.
We must recognise that we have been through a life-changing experience and we are now building up a new us. What’s the worst that can happen if you ask a question again?
Sometimes when I wanted to say something bold, I would stay silent because I just imagine a disaster and me mumbling. But now if I think it through and ask myself “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” then I realise that the worst that will happen is that the person looks puzzled and waits for me to clarify myself and will no doubt put the words into my mouth as it is a natural way to show you’re listening to mimic the person you are talking to.
We are not able to eliminate this problem but, we can minimalise it. It is about building up strategies.
Try these suggestions when you are in this situation:
- Loosen up your shoulders and neck. Keep A good posture
- Blink! move your eyes to stop zoning out
- Think, what was the last thing they said that you do remember
- Listen to their tone of voice
- Watch their facial expression
- Watch the person’s gestures
- Remove distractions. For example, go to a quieter room.
- Ask them to repeat themselves
- The more we practice getting more tolerant to conversations the better
“Something that people don’t realise is that only 60% of all human communication is nonverbal body language; 30% is your tone”