In Southern California, the transition between seasons is elusive, at best. As a native Canadian, experiencing seasons in Los Angeles seems to always be summer, summer, and more summer! It took some time before I stopped anticipating the type of distinct seasonal transitions I was used to, and started to notice – and be curious about – the more subtle indications that a new season was starting.
Pausing and intentionally observing these less obvious cues – the different bird songs, the blooming of California wildflowers – provides a beautiful opportunity to think about the importance of “unconscious communication”. Unconscious (or intuitive) communication is defined as the subtle, unintentional, unconscious cues that provide information to another individual. This can include both verbal (speech patterns, physical activity while speaking, or the tone of voice of an individual) and nonverbal (facial expressions and body language communication).
As facilitators, our team works together to seek out and identify signs of unconscious communication that may be occurring within groups we work with. Asking open-ended questions (“Tell me more about…”) or having side-bar conversations with individuals to check in are tools we often use to support open and inclusive discussions. We also work hard to model positive communication skills and aim to be aware of any unconscious communication that we might be conveying.
Turning your attention to these subtle, unintentional forms of communication that may be happening during a meeting or discussion can build mutual understanding and help support relationship building. And just like springtime in Southern California, this slight shift of focus can lead you to what you were seeking all along.