No words.It’s an expression used to describe a response to bad, shocking, and traumatic news. The news may be about ourselves, a person we know, or a situation that's far from us. The content of the story leaves us with no words: mute, at a loss, speechless. We open our mouths only to clamp them shut. Our minds rifle though mental file folders trying to find the one labeled "Language". Why Don't We Have Words? We don’t lack language when hearing good news. Our speech doesn't suddenly disappear during a celebration. We have words, exclamations, and shouts. But when we hear bad news, our brains can temporarily freeze. Brain scans of individuals who have gone through trauma show that a part the brain called Broca's region shuts down. Bad news impacts psychologically and neurologically. Examples Of No Words Stories Recently, I experienced several no words stories.
- Meeting a man whose teenage son was killed by a car.
- Hearing a woman share that she is dying of HIV.
- Listening as a middle-aged man described the effects of his abusive childhood on his current life.
- Use body language. Make eye contact. Nod your head.
- Show emotions. (Of course, not uncontrolled ones!) Teary eyes convey empathy. A furrowed brow shows concern.
- Listen. Silence is a friend. Give the story space. This is not the time to offer advice.
- Crying and feeling strong emotions like anger
- Talking it out with a trusted friend