The Guardian in Each of Us
For some time now I’ve been struggling with writing new articles – you might have noticed. I shared this challenge with a colleague of mine and he asked me one simple question, “What are you passionate about?” Now, that is a really straight forward question – one that I knew the answer to – but my hesitance to answer him came from a deep-seeded thought that fellow nerds might be familiar with. My colleague is not a nerd… so I was forced to make the calculated risk of: Do I express my real nerdom, jump on the table, rip open my button down to reveal my Iron Man T-shirt and yell “I love video games, board games and all things Marvel!” ooooorrrr… do I take the reserved route and say “I don’t know, movies and games I guess”? Long story short, I’m not longer allowed in TacoDeli… just kidding.
Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately for my colleague) I went with the reserved route that day but that question really stuck with me. I started to think about why, in all the ideas that I had ever jotted down, have I never wanted to write about my nerdy passions? After several days of thought, I could not think of any reason big enough to prevent me from starting and with the recent release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. So, I figured, why not start now? Let me just take a quick second to put on my “I am Groot!” socks.
Great, now that’s done let’s start with this: Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot. If you’re unfamiliar with or haven’t yet seen the Guardians of the Galaxy, these are the main characters. Individually, they’re each awesome – but together they’re unstoppable! The reason I love these guys so much is because looking from the outside-in you can’t help but ask yourself how are these guys friends, let alone how the hell do they function as a team?! Drax is a musclebound tank of man who acts/speaks before thinking and can’t understand metaphors. Rocket is a genetically augmented/altered raccoon, whose mechanical genius can only be matched by his overinflated ego (some might say narcissism). Gamora is a tough-as-nails lone-wolf assassin, who would sooner put a knife in you than speak to you. Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord, a quick-witted, ruggedly handsome wanna-be outlaw who has no special qualities, talents or super powers, but keeps together and somehow manages to lead the Guardians.
We Are Groot.
Then there’s Groot, the subject of today’s little article. Groot, or more recently “Baby Groot” is a walking, talking tree whose vocabulary is limited to “I” and “am” and “Groot,” exclusively in that order. I wanted to focus on Groot because more than any other Guardian he’s the easiest to connect with! If ever there was a perfect, walking, talking example of the importance of nonverbal communication verses verbal communication, it would be Groot. Throughout both movies he connects the audience with feelings of happiness, sadness, pride, love, anger, confusion, and so many more – and again, he does this with only three words.
We connect with Groot because ninety-three percent of the communication we interpret (or misinterpret) is understood through nonverbal communication; fifty-five percent from body language and thirty-eight percent from tone of voice. Often, when we misinterpret communication it’s because the words said don’t match up with body language and tone – so our rational self says “that statement makes sense” but our emotional self says “no it freaking doesn’t!” If you’ve ever heard the statement “I’m fine” from someone but get the impression or gut feeling that that person is not “fine” you’ve experienced the verbal/nonverbal incongruence I’m referring to.
This is another reason why we so easily connect and understand Groot; because he’s always communicating congruently. You understand and feel his passion when he makes the statement “We are Groot” because his tone is light and slow and his body language is completely open and vulnerable. Conversely, you understand his frustration as an angsty teen when Peter Quill asks him to pick up his room, because Groot’s tone is short and edgy, his eyes roll in contempt, and his body posture is closed off as he hunches over to play video games. Every time Groot speaks, you just get it, it makes sense.
Cue the Credits
Obviously, I took a very nerdy teaching approach with this article but there is a real lesson to be learned from Groot. Whether you’re communicating with a friend, colleague, or loved one Groot teaches us that what we say is important, but how we say it is imperative.
As always, if you enjoyed it please feel free to “Like”, “Share” or “Comment” on it and be sure to check back here next month when I release my next article.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate