Lessons from Shaun the Sheep?

I’m not sure if I have mentioned any of my fears in our blog before, but one of the biggest ones I have had up until recently, was the possibility, even ever so slight, that Eden would have been non-verbal in her ability to communicate, the thought  “what happens if I never get to hear the words, “I love you””, from my daughters lips, destroyed me on more than a few occasions.  Even writing this brings tears to my eyes, more so because it seems so desperately selfish of me.

A month or so ago, we had a family adventure to see the new Shaun the Sheep movie.  Shaun the Sheep, has seriously got to be one of the greatest cartoons on the face of the planet, we have laughed ourselves to hysterics many times at what the mischief Shaun and his crew get up too.  5 minutes of hilarity in every day is a must for the soul.

What struck me most about this movie, along with the belly laughs and ridiculous behaviour, was that the whole story, 2 hours of cartoon mischievousness, completely captivated the entire family, the entire cinema, from the youngest to the oldest  (2 – 70+) and never used a single word!!

There was never a point in the movie when someone asked “what just happened?” Or “I don’t understand!” (And there is always someone that has to ask), the entire cinema was caught up; we all experienced an enthralling story, communicated without words.

I remember walking out and making comment to Ruth at this wonderful phenomena.  It overwhelmed me and still does that communication is far more than just a spoken word, its interaction, gesture, eye contact, warmth, care, interpretation, a knowing glance, a hug, a kiss, a slap on the back, a quiet seat beside someone.

In light of this, I feel it is appropriate to say, that men have been given a bad rap and quite frankly we are the greatest communicators on the planet, we can undertake many ventures, sport, fishing, watching TV, driving long distances and so much more, in silence, for days on end always knowing where we stand with our fellow brothers, never once using a word!! Let’s get a cheer for the men!! True masters of communication on these elevated plains!!!

The truth is, verbal communication, according to Dr Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, in his studies concludes that only 7% of our message is actually conveyed through words, 38% through vocal elements and a huge 55% through non-verbal elements.

Only 7% of communication is through words we use and less than half is through verbal elements, such a very small percentage of how we interact with each other, yet for some reason we hold it to be so valuable.

We have all learnt to put so much value into what has been spoken into, over and on our lives that it has the potential to bind us up and control us for years, if not a lifetime.  This in turn means we struggle to interpret or accept all the other ways that people are trying to engage, communicate and love on us.

There is an old saying “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, and those that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” There have been more lives destroyed by words then there ever will be by all the inventive ways that humankind has developed to destroy each other.

My conclusion here is this, if we are going to continue to put such a hefty weight on  the use of verbal communication, maybe just maybe, we should consider using it to bring life, hope, encouragement, support, value and love to each other, engage language that elevates
and builds, cherishes, nurtures and loves.

I would love you to try a social experiment within your family or community.  What if we spent more time telling the ones we love, that we actually love them, saying thanks for the sacrifices we have made for each other, expressing and highlighting the “everyday things” that we take each other for granted in.

What if we replaced the downward with the upward, the negative with the encouraging and the destruction with construction?

I believe we would truly begin to see each other differently and we would also begin to notice all the other communicative interactions that we have with each other on a deeper level.  I have been blessed since having Eden to meet some of the most beautiful people the world has to offer, and some who are “Non-verbal” in their communication style, I have held some of the richest and deepest conversations with them and enjoyed them more than most people I talk too!!


Oh and for those of you playing along at home, Eden recently responded to “I love you” with “I La La”!! I will take that any day of the week!!


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