I learned about an interesting study recently called the Still Face Experiment. Dr. Tronick asked mothers to play with their infants while making sure to smile and laugh and make the usual mommy-faces. After a couple of minutes, the mothers were asked to stop smiling or responding with facial expressions altogether. Even though they were still playing, the infants would panic when they could not get their usual smiles and playful mommy-faces. They would try to make their moms laugh but eventually they would just stop and cry. Once the mother went back to her usual expressions, the baby was soothed and calm again.
As adults we still look for those attentive expressions in others to feel safe to share our stories. It really gets me thinking about how attentive of a listener I am to others who are sharing their stories with me. What kind of listener are you?