30 June 2022

Mannerisms

I have been watching tennis from Wimbledon today. You may not be interested in tennis but I rather like the dramatic tension of it all and the way that games can swing from one player to the other. Confidence and calmness under pressure are key features of a winning mentality.

Surely one of the finest players the world has ever seen is Rafael Nadal from Majorca, Spain. At thirty six, he is coming to the end of his career now but he remains a battler and a winner- so passionate about the game he loves and eager to win every point.

When delivering hundred mile an hour serves or receiving them, a player needs to be souped up and ready. At these moments you will see Rafael Nadal touching his face lightly in several places. It's a kind of preparation routine - getting himself in the right mental place to do his job. Other players have different habits in these key moments.

It made me think that we all have different mannerisms - not just in sport but in everyday life too. We don't decide to have them, they just come to us and they are hard to suppress or change.

When conversing with others I have always thought it to be pretty important to look at each other, make eye contact. I don't mean fixed stares because that would be unnatural and unsettling but at least in western cultures it is normal to show respect by looking at who we are speaking to.

However, this causes me to reflect on one of my own mannerisms.

Very often when I am deep in conversation with others and I am perhaps trying to express a difficult point or recall a tangled memory of yore, I look away from the person or people I am talking to, focusing perhaps on a curtain or fireplace. I find this helps me to better concentrate on what I am saying and to be honest I just can't help it. I have always done it.

It is usually surprising when the listener stops looking at me and instead follows my eye line to that curtain, that fireplace or that window. I can read their thoughts in such moments - "What's he looking there for?" and  "Why have we lost eye contact?" Sometimes I stop the conversation at that point to explain or apologise.

Does this sound familiar to you? Perhaps it's just me.

29 comments:

  1. I mostly think when people look away when they're talking that they are looking for the right words or thoughts.
    I do that; I look away briefly, trying to find the right phrase.

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    1. Just like me then but it can be misinterpreted.

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  2. I have done that.

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    1. What? Played tennis at Wimbledon like Rafa Nadal?

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  3. My classes picked out many of my mannerisms. the were so dead on imitating me, That I had a hard time to get myself together and teach. My son was excellent at picking out my mannerisms.

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    1. Now I am wondering what those mannerisms were/are.

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  4. My Mum is big at gesticulating; she is very descriptive in that and mimics with her hands what she is talking about, for instance if it is about cooking or the food that was served at an event, her hands will make the movements involved in preparing and serving food. Even though my sister and I sometimes tease our Mum about it, we love it - it is just so very much part of her, and I probably have some of her liveliness when I am in conversation, too.
    One mannerism I am conscious of is that I tilt my head towards my left shoulder when listening intently. Also, when I concentrate (either as speaker or listener), I glance sideways for a moment.

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    1. Some birds tilt their heads too. I guess your mother's use of her hands to aid conversation was not learnt - it just came naturally.

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  5. I do the same thing but I mostly look down. I've never explained and now I think it would be an excellent idea.

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    1. Looking down might be mistaken for disrespect or disinterest when it isn't that at all.

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  6. I often find when talking to people their eyes glaze over.
    They must surely be totally mesmerised by my conversation.

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    1. With Manx men it's probably lust. With Manx women it's probably envy.

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  7. I have trouble looking people in the eyes, most of my kids do too and my brother sometimes. It's possible we are ever so slightly autistic? but I remember my mum making me look into her eyes telling me that she could see a tiny man dancing in mine if I was telling lies. I always avoided eye contact when I could but never told lies. Well, almost never. A couple of us hold our hands in fists when we are thinking hard or trying to make a point in conversation.

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    1. You have considered this question carefully River. I think autism is perhaps a sliding scale and we are all on there at some point - lower or higher.

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  8. I really don't know what I do when talking to someone. I find it annoying when talking to someone and I can see their attention has drifted away and they are not hearing you. Maybe I am just terribly boring.

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  9. My mannerisms are not something I'm aware of, but I must have them. I do gesticulate, and frequently use my hands to emphasise a point when I'm talking.

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    1. Some people are very good at using their hands to kind of illustrate what they are saying.

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  10. My mother always moved her hands around when talking--not emphatically--but gently. Sometimes I would take hold of her hands and she almost always abruptly stopped talking. We would both laugh.

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    1. That's a nice mannerism to remember. Something quirky about her.

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  11. When I'm surrounded by familiar company, my hands begin to gesticulate when I'm sharing a story. The better the story, the more my hands begin to move. Many a beer or glass of wine has been spilled due to my exuberant story telling.

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    1. Only when I am really fired up do the hand gestures happen without really thinking.

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  12. I do the same thing -- maintain eye contact for the most part, but occasionally glance away (usually right over their shoulder), particularly when I'm trying to form a thought. I think it's natural. No one's ever commented on it. Maybe you're looking TOO far away. You're not supposed to turn your back on them! LOL

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  13. I sometimes cut myself off to think - it's silence more than lack of eye contact that I need. After a many a dig in the ribs from Mrs C I've learned to explain too!

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    1. Is Mrs C your live-in care assistant?

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  14. I can do a good gesticulate for having a brew or even a pint.

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    1. Not sure you have grasped this Mr Dave.

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  15. I bet you play pocket billiards.

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