Missing the Meaning Part 2: Negative Reactions

Yellow emojis, 3 expressing anger, one smiling, one anxious, with 2 brown chimps.

“When someone wishes to avoid conflicting or embarrassing communications, they express their feelings non-verbally,” says a researcher in Non Verbal Communications.

On Sunday I was at a socially-distant picnic. There was a red cloth on the grass, I anchored it with my purse against the gusty breeze. Everyone in the circle was a friend of my daughter’s.

When I got up to go I twitched the cloth towards me to locate my purse. Meantime a woman sitting  on the far side had tucked the cloth around her legs to stay warm. There was silence! Would any of these slight acquaintances unaccustomed to blindness have said something?  My daughter      was there to tell me so no problem. People do not express bad surprise at a party.

Such a tiny incident but a good illustration of the need to  use assertive speech, to speak up, to explain, and train our family and close friends to do the same!

We who don’t see eyes, faces and bodies have to register that negative incidents will happen and then dismiss them! we can get overly concerned, and any paranoid feelings interfere with our self-esteem, and the need to present a cheerful outgoing personality to new acquaintances, as well as friends and relations we don’t often meet.

“Nonverbal codes are used to create and strengthen interpersonal relationships,” says the researcher. This is very clear at social gatherings where there are people you know, but who aren’t close.

Often it’s at extended family events that people with vision loss feel most pain and most cut off. But church and temple services, club or association meetings, and any kind of party can deliver the same heartache, with social distancing adding another twist. And though there are several factors, the negative fee-back you don’t know about is certainly an important one.

Spoken communication with the people closes to you does become more open and direct as a result of your loss, and this is  good for everyone. It takes consistent effort from you the person who lives with blindness or low vision and from your core group too. You have to make sure that you spend time talking to your closest family and friends individually about the important issues in your life and in theirs too.

When you are ready find friends and contacts who also live with vision loss at a vision rehab center, a support group, or one of the national blindness organizations; American Council of the Blind and National Federation of the Blind.

More about assertive speech and managing social events in Chapter 6, 8, and 9 of my book:

When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes: Vision Loss and Personal Recovery, the first How To guide for people losing sight and their families was published in 2019. It is available on Amazon in print, and Google Play Books as an accessible eBook, NLS talking books (#DBC11619) and on Bookshare. Thanks to generous friends and family the eBook is also available free of charge. It can be read in regular or large print or as an audio book. Apply for accessible free copy here.

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