Monday, June 24, 2013

Northern Living Tip: How to "Say" Yes and No

One of the things that we've needed to get used to here in Baker are the non-verbal ways the locals express "yes" and "no", which are very subtle! In fact, after being here almost a year, I'm still not sure that we're fully attuned to the cues and we have found ourselves repeating questions because we think they're not being answered - when in fact they are.

I thought it'd be helpful (and fun) to show you using pictures how to do it. Look really carefully, because it's very subtle!

(I decided to take these pictures on a whim, so please excuse my non-make-up'd face and my unruly hair. Oh, and I'm holding the iPad up and the camera was to the side, hence my side-gaze.) Here's my neutral expression, to give you a starting point of reference:

Here's me expressing "yes" - a slight eyebrow raise. It can be more pronounced, but it could also be even more slight than mine! (See what I mean, you have to really be attuned to faces?)

Here's me expressing "no" - a slight wrinkle of the nose. It can be a more pronounced wrinkle, or a slight one, but they both mean the same thing - disagreement.
Whichever the expression, whether it's pronounced or extremely subtle, both are very brief. If you look away for a second or aren't facing the person when you're talking to them, you'll likely miss it entirely. When we first moved here, I had a conversation with someone before learning about the facial expressions and asked a question a few times, missing the eyebrow raise all times until they finally verbalized it. Now that I know, I try to be much more mindful of it, but it's still a hard thing to get used to. I'm getting better though - I had a conversation with a 3 year old recently and when I asked him if he liked vegetables I got the nose scrunch. :)

Every day's a learning experience! Hopefully this will help you if you come to Nunavut to avoid repetitive conversations. :)


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