Non-verbal communication can be so powerful. Actress Sally Hawkins playing a mute cleaning lady named Elisa Esposito, doesn’t utter a word in the movie The Shape of Water but she speaks volumes. In her unbelievably expressive face you can clearly see love and frustration, anger, humour and intelligence. All Elisa need do is shrug her shoulder, soften her eyes or let a tiny smile begin to play at the corner of her lips and you know exactly how she is feeling. Using only sign language and body language Elisa does her job capably and has won loyal friends.
Because she can’t speak the romance she carries on with a merman, an exotic water creature being kept in the lab where she works, is even more intense and emotional than it would have been had the love affair been conducted in words.
As I watched The Shape of Water I was actually reminded of something actor Will Smith said in the movie Hitch where he is coaching a man trying to pursue the love of his life. “Sixty percent of all human communication is nonverbal body language; thirty percent is your tone, so that means ninety percent of what you’re saying isn’t coming out of your mouth.”
I was also reminded of this picture of my husband Dave carrying on price negotiations in a market in Saigon using only a calculator and his facial and body expressions. He didn’t speak the women’s language and they didn’t speak his but Dave was so good at communicating with his body language. Dave is a very funny man and he can be funny without saying a word.
Sally Hawkins may not win the Golden Globe tonight for best actress but her ability to play a woman who speaks without speaking was exceptional and reminds us all that we communicate with far more than just our words.
Other posts about communication…….