A while ago, I was messaging someone through a dating app, and they said that they spoke English, but they found it difficult to express their true selves in the languages in which they weren’t fluent. As true as that might be, I didn’t think that was fair to say, after all, who we are cannot be expressed fully via text message or any amount of writing. This interaction got me thinking that communication is universal.
We as human beings are so complex that it’s almost impossible to put ourselves into words, be them spoken, written or via pictures etched into an ancient tablet. Even though language is the cornerstone of civilisation, I am of the belief that ‘communication is universal’. Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, discovered in his famous study on human communication that only 7% of human communication is through words, 38% is vocal, and the lion's share of communication is nonverbal a whopping 55%. This study most people have heard of and it’s become watered down/simplified, to 90% of communication is nonverbal. Professor Mehrabian found that “a lot of information is conveyed verbally, but in a face-to-face conversation, body language and facial expressions can have an incredible impact on how information is interpreted”. This I was reminded of whilst watching the 2019 film Pokémon: Detective Pikachu when Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) is describing how Pokémon understand humans to Tim Goodman (played by Justice Smith) in this line from the movie: “You don’t need to talk to Pokémon for us to understand what you’re saying we can feel it”.
This is true for humanity as a whole when I look back at my life and the encounters I have had with people from around the world and from all walks of life. It’s true that more is said in a five-minute face-to-face conversation than can be garnered in 2 hours of texting back and forth. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to you; right now, you’re likely saying yes, no shit Sherlock this isn’t news to anyone get on with it.
So I shall; there have been times when I have gone to different countries, and even though I have not been able to speak their language, I have still managed to have conversations that I remember to this day. Once I visited Spain and please bear in mind that I speak incredibly little Spanish and…