Dealing with your favorite Zombie, by Kurt Larsson

Dealing with your favorite Zombie, by Kurt Larsson
Another record! I was out doing my usual weekend jog and met at least 30 other people enjoying this fine autumn day. Alas, only two responded to my friendly ”hi” greeting breaking the old record. Most chose to use their energy to shut down their senses, look away and try to ignore my existence. That process made them look like zombies. Many already looked like this long before I passed them. With this level of interaction and friendliness between neighbors out in the sun is it any wonder so many of us feel lonely, separate and suspicious? Is it also any wonder why many of our children prefer their smartphones to talking with us?

Where did all the zombies come from?
Walk down virtually any street and you will see them masquerading as normal people. They look just like you and me until you look into their eyes and see that they seem distant, longing to be somewhere else other than right here, right now. Some call it their ”street face”. Often that distant stare is enhanced by a set of headphones or total immersion in their smart phone or newspaper. It’s that distant look and the firm jaw that conveys that their senses are firmly closed for any spontaneous interaction and everyone around them is viewed as an obstacle. Interestingly, most also look nervous, suspicious, scared, resigned or sad. More and more of us seem to be getting lost in this zombified lifestyle, but at what cost?

A zombified lifestyle is one where you may be going through all the motions of living, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s supposed to feel. If you sense something, it is probably some sort of disconnect from what you “should” feel, whatever that is for you. Although it can be easy to get frustrated when dealing with one of these zombies, it also may be well worth noting that something caused this fellow human to choose to live life in this deadened state. Here are some other symptoms of Zombification:

–       Breathing just enough to survive to their next breath

–       A lack of empathy for others and a strong focus upon themselves

–       Their walk looks mechanical, robotic and often lacks balance and flow

–       Well prepared, reactive replies hamper your questions and comments, often before you can finish them

–       Often “master-debaters” they are more willing to defend their viewpoint than to change it, even for a loved one

–       Your presence may be acknowledged, but only enough to avoid you and what you wish to convey

–       A distant look of boredom, disinterest and/or resignation

PostboxCommunicating with a Zombie can feel like trying to talk to the dead
Often trying to get your message heard and understood is like trying to post a letter by throwing it at a mail box. It will never reach your intended destination unless you find, open and insert your letter into the small portal designed for it. Regardless of whether you are trying to sell something to them or trying to get a loved one to change a destructive behavior pattern, getting them to listen takes courage, persistence, precision, patience, a willingness to listen and respond with all your senses.


Zombies are people too!
For those of us who care, it can be the most frustrating feeling in the world to offer something that you absolutely know will contribute positively to someone you care for, only to be refuted with their reasons why it could never work. For instance, I have one friend nursing a bad back and another recuperating from burnout that know exactly why the soft and conscious touch of a Body Harmony session is a waste of time, even though they have never dared experience it. What is even more frustrating is a nurse who was able to fully release a nasty upper back ache and wondered aloud why she had never experienced anything like it at the hospital, who is not interested in learning more.

“It is hard to get someone to understand something who’s paycheck depends upon them not understanding it”.
Upton Sinclair

Although Mr. Sinclair wrote these words 100 years ago they are still applicable today and in fact could probably be broadened by replacing the word ”paycheck” with ”lifestyle”. Many of us have had it so good for so long that to suggest a change of behavior will often only be seen as a threat to their comfortable way of living. Just take overeating, how many know it is unhealthy, yet continue to do so even when their nearest and dearest voice their heartfelt concerns? How much do you learn being “fat and happy?” Unfortunately, things have a habit of working well until all of a sudden they don’t. I believe it was Ernest Hemingway who, when asked how his bankruptcy occurred he replied, ”first slowly, then suddenly”. We are all guilty of being zombies at some point or another and we can all feel distant and lonely. Yet, there are some of us that see and understand that practicing becoming connected to your surroundings and the people in it can be very rewarding. Did you know that just that feeling of being connected is the essence of what spirituality is about?

So what can we do to bring those zombies we care about back to life?

Here are some tips from ExpandingU’s Sensational Soft Skills Toolbox:

Detach yourself from the outcome. The more you have invested in changing someone else’s behavior, the more resistance you can count upon experiencing. For any of you parents frustrated by trying to warn your child not to make the same mistake you did, ask yourself if you get closer or further away from your goal by nagging?

Practice empathy: Be with them, their thoughts and look at life from their perspective.

Avoid debates: They are used to defending their point of view and you will either win the debate and lose their listening or lose the debate as well as their listening. Either way it will be mission not accomplished.

Ask inquisitive questions that invite them to think outside of their normal thought patterns. Encourage them to reflect by taking time to ponder what they say to you.

Feel what is happening in the room, in you and in them. See if you can sense a softening of their resistance as well as an increase in their sense of trust. What can you do, say or be to enhance this blossoming of their senses.

Don’t take it personally, Be willing to take a NO. As one of the Peanuts characters once said, ”don’t go away mad, just go away”. Try again another day.

Celebrate the small steps. Your friends didn’t become zombies overnight and reversing the process will probably take time. The more you allow the space for the process to evolve, the more you celebrate and encourage the return of their senses and feelings the more you can expect a positive outcome.

Respect their choices especially when you do not agree. They have chosen their path based upon something, find that something without making them wrong and pissing them off. Who do you have to be and what do you have to say and do to make a difference they are willing to entertain?

Did I mention to make every breath a joy? Inspire them deeply from within as well as without.

A sensational lifestyle is one where you actually feel connected to what is going on, here and now. The best way to communicate the value of living such a life rather than being a zombie is by example. Count on it being the road less traveled, yet which road do you learn more by taking?

Speaking of the road less traveled, next time you are out walking or jogging, you are invited to say hello to strangers and keep your own score of how many respond positively. Again, who do you have to be and what do you have to do to connect with that wonderful human inside that zombie shell and keep raising your score?

For more information on integrating Expanding Understanding’s Sensational Soft Skills Toolbox into your organization to increase performance, team-spirit and transform suspected zombies into sensational co-workers or clients, please contact us here.

About The Author


I am fascinated with what makes us humans ”tick”, especially when it comes to how we consciously communicate and express ourselves with our body language. My business background is in international sales and sales management, selling everything from automobile tires in Houston, Tx, to retail banking delivery systems in 20 countries. I have graduated from CoachU’s 3 year Coach Training program, been certified as an Extended DISC consultant and become a Certified International Body Harmony Teacher with over 20 years of ”hands-on” experience in bodywork. This rich and varied background combined with over 20 years of being an entrepreneur has blessed me with insights and experiences I never would have noticed in the corporate world. Mainstream business now seems to be waking up to the riches available from more conscious and responsible business practices. Expanding Understanding’s Sensational Soft Skills Toolbox , the books I have written and training I have developed now provide savvy decision makers and their colleagues measurable results and a more restful night's sleep. These tools provide an edge in consciously understanding, deliberately using and profiting from the most powerful communication tool available, our bodies. I look forward to meeting you on this path to mastery in non verbal communication.

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