How do you communicate with a newborn?
Are newborn babies experts in Mindful Conversation? The simple answer is “Yes and No.” Not so simple as it might seem. Of course, the answer is “No.” Newborns have no language skills! They don’t know a single word. They don’t even know of their own existence much less another whom they could talk with. But, another answer is “Yes.” They bring out the love, the hunger for connection, the sense of wonder and oneness in others. They are masters of Mindful Conversation.
I’ve spent the past week with our new, beautiful, sweet, sweet granddaughter, Anais (Annie). Quite possibly she “knows” more about connecting than I do. “Knows” not with her brain, but with that sweet little heart, that’s already busy at work, beating 60 – 100 times a minute, 86,000 times a day! Oh, this life we share!
The joys of Non-verbal Communication
Words are great, but many of our deepest messages don’t require them at all. A little touch, a smile, a gaze, a gentle stroke. These can deliver such profound messages. The absence of words helps cut to the chase. Annie knows that. Without saying a word, she captures a room. She pulls us in. She makes us feel whole and loving. Not bad for a start. Not bad for someone whose eyes are mostly closed, who has yet to see beyond her own tiny fingers.
How to Talk with someone who doesn’t respond
There’s someone else in this equation. Annie’s big sister, Zellie, is now two and a half. She takes her role joyously. Gently. Lovingly. As Annie slept in her bassinette, Zellie sat down right next to her to read to her. She “read” the whole book, cover to cover, sometimes upside down, sometimes right side up. That made no difference. She turned the book around so her little sister could “see” the pictures, pointing out and explaining just what was happening. Her descriptions were “age-appropriate” and accurate. Annie slept on, never wavering her attention. Zellie read on, never doubting the depth of her connection.
The Wonder of it All
Maybe we worry too much about the words we use. Some experts say that 50 – 75% of what is remembered in conversation stems from non-verbal communication. Most of us are pretty unconscious of our non-verbal messaging, both sending and receiving. If so, we’re missing out on a lot. Take it from Zellie. Take it from Annie. Take from any newborn. Listen with the ears of the heart, not just those two flaps on either side of your head. Take it all in.
Are newborn babies experts in Mindful Conversation? Yes and No. This, for sure, we can learn lot from them.
If you’re interested in learning more about your own default style of communication, check out my free “Conversation Style Guide” assessment, https://petergibb.org/ For a great classic that reveals the wonder and the work that is the newborn, try https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/