Iīve been fascinated by language and interpersonal communication for as long as I can remember.

As a child I remember thinking that it was funny and arbitrary that some sounds could be "bad" and other sounds good be "good". I mean, theyīre all just sounds. Who decided that shirt was a good word and that $#!% was a bad word? Itīs just as easy to say one as it is to say the other. The sounds donīt intrinsically have a connotation.

I also thought it was bizarre that holding up one finger could irritate so many people. Itīs just a finger.

My interest with language grew when I learned my second language. It is possible to express some ideas in one language that I canīt express in the other, or at the very least itīs a struggle. I also noticed trends in how speaking one language for an extended period of time impacted that way I thought.

Because each language has a better or worse time expressing different abstract concepts, each language has its own personality of sorts. And as a result, when I immersed myself in a new language I discovered that my personality subtly changed.

Jeff speaking English is not the same person as Jeff speaking Spanish. I actually think differently from one language to the other. Itīs not just the different words, itīs the different lenses.

My interest in interpersonal communication has more to do with my desire to understand everyone. I understand that this impossible, but it doesnīt stop me from trying to understand as much as I can about as many people as I can. Itīs probably why I became an English major and a writer.

Over the last decade, Iīve come to the conclusion that verbal language (in any language) is insufficient. I can only scratch the surface with most people with the spoken word--in English or Spanish (and I assume any other language).

This realization has prompted me to explore other means of communication.

Iīm a practical man, and I believe that in order to learn anything you need to get out and do. So, I practiced my fledgling neo-communication ideas on my friends, family, coworkers, etc. There are many who could call what I was practicing "non-verbal" communication, but I feel that this term is too generalized.

I have labeled each one as follows: emotional, intellectual, action, and physical. These labels were born out of studying how my close friends and family most strongly communicate with the world. It has to do with what is most import to each person, what they weigh as relevant, and what bores them.


I know many people who speak poorly. I donīt believe this is because they are stupid or lazy. I believe it is because they just donīt care about verbal communication. They only use it as a carrier for the way the really want to communicate--emotionally.

Before I figured out what was important to these people, and then how to communicate with them in their preferred medium, I was often frustrated in conversations with them.

They would make one statement, and as soon as I started to address their point they would make another statement that was either contradictory to their first or was completely off topic. At first I figured they were just logic impaired, ADD, or just stupid.Their failure to communicate verbally with any organized logical progression only proves that these arenīt things they care about.

However, once I started listening an responding emotionally, the logic leaps became irrelevant, because they had nothing to do with what the person was trying to communicate--something as simple as, I feel sad, or I wish you would show that you care about me, or Iīm feeling pain.

When I tried to use logic or reason with a person communication emotionally it only made matters worse, because I was purposefully trying to keep my emotions out of the equation so as to not "muddy the waters" of what I was attempting to say. All they wanted, and all I needed to do, was for me to emote.

Iīm sure that you men have all known at least one woman who fits this description, but now that Iīve developed the ability to listen and speak in "Emotion", I realize that I know as many men who communicate this way as women.


People who communicate intellectually often like to believe that any other form of communication either doesnīt exist, is trivial, or is at least inferior. When I try to open up emotionally to someone like this my gesture is most often met with disdain or ridicule or boredom.

These people like to believe that everything in the world, everything in life can be ordered and understood with rational thought and expressed with the correct words and they become frustrated with anyone who suggests that this is not possible.

It is easy to have long conversations with an intellectual. This is the only way that they have to connect with another human being, and whether they like to think so or not, they need human connections as much as anyone else.

Itīs best to work on your phrasing, word choice, and organization and progression of ideas if you want to communicate with an intellectual.


Some people donīt really care about what most people would consider communication. They think that itīs a waste of time. These people think of themselves as men or women of action. Oh, theyīll work some things out logically, but only just enough to get them to doing whatever they wanted to do in the first place. Theyīll feel emotion, but they only have time for it if it drives them to do something.

To people who communicate in "Action" results are the only form of communication that matters. Iīm sure it was one such an individual who first said, "Talk is cheap."

These are the people with who I have the most difficulty communicating because it takes so much longer to say anything in "Actionese". You have to prove yourself to this kind of person by doing enough things to form their equivalent of a sentence.

Iīve occasionally tried to pin on of these people down and hash things out intellectually or emotionally, but it never works. They at first seem tolerant of me wasting their time with what to them doesnīt matter, but eventually they just get angry.

If you know someone like this, donīt try to open up emotionally or have an enlightening conversation. If you want to communicate--just go do things with him or her.


This is the form of communication that is most interesting to me right now. Iīve taken a few massage classes, Iīve received my fair share of massages, and Iīve given many more than that. Massage assumes that by touching a person a certain way you can ease pain, or calm, or get rid of stress, or increase the bodyīs ability to heal, or (etc etc).

Everyone responds differently to touch, so the language of physicality is tough to define. Still, it can be argued that everyone responds differently to words (deconstructionism), so maybe it just seems tough because comparably, very few people communicate this way.

People experiment with physical language with hugs, hand shakes, butt slaps, should squeezes, and sex, but these are very blunt and generalized expressions. It like a preschool student trying to write the Constitution. You may get the gist, but thatīd be all.

Iīm convinced that with enough research I can learn enough about this language so that I can communicate as articulately with tough as I can with words. Can you image the advantages of this knowledge? Image your wife or your husband moodily sitting alone in a room. You can walk up to him or her and with a few simple touches both communicate what you think/fell and help them feel better...

My research into physical communication is frustrated by cultural and societal norms. Many people are programmed to feel like touch is weird or creepy. If you are from a hugging family and you have been around people who arenīt from a hugging family (or visa versa) then you know what Iīm talking about.

I have met the occasional physical communicator. In almost every case, Iīve only figured out thatīs what they are through the process of elimination (because those norms make it difficult to experiment). They donīt seem interested in stimulating conversation. They reject verbal emotional overtures, and they arenīt motived like the action people--unless the chosen activity involves physical interaction.

These people flock to team sports because there physicality is not only accepted, it is encouraged.

Iīm guessing that physical communicators are sometimes mislabeled as sexual because in US society everything physical is considered sexual by someone. If these people are taught that sex is bad and physicality is sex and they only connect through physicality...it must be lonely.

Well, thatīs all Iīve got for now. Reach out and touch someone.