Don't we often struggle to find just the right words to say when we're trying to communicate with someone? But, real communication goes so far beyond saying the "right words."
In 2008, I was performing in Beijing during the Olympics. While I was there, I got to hear Madeline Manning Mims speak. Madeline, who broke the world record in the 800 meters in 1968, told the following powerful story.
During the 1968 Games, Madeline was racing against a woman from an Eastern Bloc nation. When Madeline broke the ribbon, she looked around to see where the woman placed in the race. She was nowhere to be found. Madeline discovered the woman had been warned that she and her family would face great penalties if she didn't return with a gold medal, so the woman had peeled off the track before reaching the finish line and ran to the highest point of the stadium. She was going to throw herself off the stadium wall. Thankfully, someone found her and brought her back down.
The next day as Madeline was heading to the U.S. team bus, she passed by the woman. She felt a strong desire to connect with her, so she told her teammates she'd catch the next bus. As Madeline returned to the woman, it dawned on her that she didn't know a single word in the woman's language, and it was very unlikely that the woman knew any English. So, Madeline just walked up to the woman and smiled.
Later, Madeline read that the woman had been institutionalized, not speaking a word for years. After she was released, Madeline was able to visit her. The woman ran up to Madeline and gave her a big hug. The woman told Madeline that her road to recovery had begun when she broke her silence and said, "Madeline came back."
So, the next time you find yourself searching for that perfect word, remember the power of the non-verbal. Lives can be changed with a smile.
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Freedom Finder for Graceworks, helping people become more comfortable as presenters through workshops and project specific coaching.
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