Communication is a vital part of human interaction. It is what allows us to establish community, build culture, and connect with others. Communication has traditionally been thought of as being 10% reliant on verbal and 90% reliant on nonverbal techniques involving body language and tone. So, where does emotional language come in?
In order to answer that question it is first important to know what emotional language is. Emotional language can best be thought of as the universal language of humanity, and it has many expressions. Most readily we think of smiles of joy and frowns of sadness, but it goes beyond that. There are many subtleties and nuances in emotional language, and these are the things that present themselves often times in nonverbal cues through body language.
I recently had the opportunity to review a copy of Emotional Language: The Art and Science of Communication of Human Development by Zaki Huq. The book is intended as a workbook to explain Emotional Language and to help cultivate awareness to facilitate better communication and understanding skills for those in human service professions, such as teachers, caregivers, volunteers, parents, and guardians. However, everyone can benefit from the information imparted in this book.
The book is only 105 pages, with 75 of them being text rich. However, Emotional Language is not a quick read. It is thought provoking with exercises encouraging introspection. You are asked to evaluate your own emotional language expressions, and to truly see how others communicate through emotional language. It is designed to take you to a place where you are more aware, observant, and sensitive to the subtle cues that can either undermine or insure the success of contact with a client.
Going beyond the professional, emotional language draws on one’s ability to empathize and helps turn that into a compassionate approach to communicating with others. It is not intended as a means to manipulate, but rather to facilitate a better understanding between individuals. When you understand a person’s feelings it means you have a better chance at understanding how to help them through crisis, distress, or simply to offer support.
I found this book easy to read and understand. Even with my background in psychology I believe this book would have been a wonderful addition to my knowledge base when I worked with troubled teens as many of the lessons presented were ones I learned the hard way. Now, as a parent of a son with special needs, I still see the value of this book in my life. I even see it as beneficial and applicable to all of my relationships, because that is what communication is all about. Communication is about building relationships, and understanding emotional language improves the quality of those relationships.
I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for ways to improve their communication skills and the quality of their relationships. I would even go on to encourage every professional involved in mental health, education, and caregiving to add this to their professional development.