Never mind: The Eye Roll and Nonverbal Communication

The eye roll. Crossed arms. Your body askew when sitting next to somebody, the distance between you is a chasm. Hands on hips. Stiff, robotic posture. A frown that won’t bend. A vocal sigh of frustration. Sharp, quick movements. A slouch and no eye contact. 

Even if you’ve never experienced these movements, you’ve probably seen someone do them. Usually these are the movements that say “F#^* off,” “Leave me alone,” or “I’m pissed right now.” And instead of saying what bothers you, your body gives you away. 

Then, your boyfriend or partner might ask you to tell him what’s wrong. You feel angrier than words. He did it again. How could that happen? But instead of having this talk for the umpteenth time, you think you’re shrugging it off. It sure feels like you’re letting it go. But your face and stiff movements betray you. He asks again and you consider telling him. But then you remember the fun night you have planned and decide that talking about it will ruin your plans. So you shift away from him, maybe walk into another room, and again, the loud stomping noises give you away. He follows you and you think you’re over it. He inquires again. Now, three questions later, you realize just how dumb this is and so you decide to talk. 

“Honey, what’s wrong?”

“Oh nothing.”

“You’re being weird.”

“No. I’m not.”

“Yes, you are. You’re icing me out.”

“Never mind.”

“Never mind? You’ve been distant and hard to talk to. Just tell me.”

Sigh. 

Now you don’t know what to do. Do you tell him the real thing or do you drop it? Can you really drop it and move on? You’ve gotta leave the house, get to yoga or meet up with a friend. But you have plans. Shoot. 

Most women know this situation all too well. Unfortunately, we’re masters at the ubiquitous eyeroll and deep sigh. 

So what to do about it?

For Men
Give her space. Some women like to play the chase game in which they’re chased and forced to speak up. Most women, from what I know and see, need to process something internally. They are stuck and unsure what to do. Do they speak about this dumb problem again? Are you going to get mad? 

Let her come to you and talk about it. When this happens, be compassionate and open. Nobody wants to talk to a partner who is judgmental or mean. 

Be supportive. If this is a real issue, have a real talk. If she’s beating herself up over a non-consequential issue, remind her that she’s being too hard on herself and it’s time to move on. 

For women

Stop beating yourself up again. If this is a real problem you’re having, deal with it with your partner. If this is an internal issue that keeps getting brought up, talk to me or another coach or therapist. 

Listen to your body. It’s telling you a not-so-subtle message. Maybe you feel scared or unsafe. Maybe you’re annoyed. Maybe you’ve had enough and it’s time to do something differently. 

Use your words. Our bodies experience feelings way before our minds process what’s happening. When our minds catch up, we’re already knee-deep in emotional baggage. It’s time to speak up about the things bothering you and express emotion. You can handle it and something better will come because of it. 

Yesterday I wrote about Minding Your Own Business

Join me!

Please visit my coaching website, Coaching By Nina Rubin.

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