Form is everything in the world that is mutually observable through sight and sound.
Objects, furniture, buildings, landscapes, websites, conversations, and publications are all forms that communicate. While we can all feel, see, or hear these forms of communication, our experiences of these forms is subjective.
Everything that we do, create, and express is communication in form. We’re also always responding to form. We absorb, sort, and evaluate information from the spaces we inhabit and our interpersonal interactions.
When you have an awareness of how form influences you and your clients, you can evaluate the quality of your professional form and alter it to so that it is aligned with your goals.
As you tune in to the layers and nuances of your communication, the greater the congruence can be between the form and intention of your communication.
Much of what we respond to happens below the level of our awareness. We absorb information through our five physical senses, but we also unconsciously communicate and absorb energetic information through our sixth sense. We may not register what external input is impacting us. For example, we may feel sad, but be unable to identify the room color as the cause of our emotion.
Timothy Wilson uses the term ‘adaptive unconscious’ for a silent process that happens beyond our conscious awareness. He calls it intelligence beyond reason. Our beliefs and rationalizations about what cause us to make a decision are not necessarily accurate. Brain studies show decisions are often made long before we are conscious of our decisions.
The term ‘nonverbal communication’ fails to elucidate the many levels of experience that take place in physical and interpersonal spaces. The fields of physical intelligence and embodied cognition are beginning to study how our emotions and physiology are altered and informed by the physical world in which we live. However, we’re still missing a vocabulary to describe the environmental dynamics that impact who we are and how we respond to the world.
What we do have is a vocabulary for how our senses register information. Our senses are designed to respond to everything in our environment. We perceive through
Scent: physical spaces, nature, people
Sight: color, shape, size, placement, light, gesture, appearance, writing, image
Sound: loudness, pitch, tone, clarity, rhythm
Touch: texture, temperature
Proprioception: ergonomic fit, weight of object, ease of handling or lifting
Emotion: what we feel and what we feel in others
Energy: energetic residue, geomagnetic fields
(Gravity, the passage of time, and vibration are also sensed by sensory processing we don’t identify. Those with a more developed sixth sense are able to perceive many more levels of information.)
With a vocabulary for the sensory aspects of experience, you can understand the influence of these variables and you can be conscious of what you convey and absorb. Everything that happens in your professional physical and interpersonal space is communication to evaluate. These communications are the form of your message.
Form includes the mood of a receptionist, the magazines in a waiting room, the smell of a space, the timeliness of an appointment’s commencement, the noises heard in a space, the promptness of responses to clients, the comfort of a chair, and the ease of navigation on a website.
Conscious form requires that you