Wednesday, 14 January 2015

What??? But I didn't say anything!!!! - Non Verbal communication

It's all about the non verbal communication around here.  A couple of our young adults have been struggling with the way they respond to situations in their lives, not understanding that their actions tell a completely different story than the words coming out of their mouths. Employers, teachers, friends and family are reacting to the non verbal response and the young adults are completely baffled because they didn't say "anything".

For example when asked to wipe down the table, as she failed to complete the whole job when doing the dinner dishes.  Nothing was said verbally but the book that was being read is slammed down on the table, a large sigh was released, rolling eyes, stomping into the kitchen to grab a cloth, more crashing and banging, then a partial cleaning of the table happens.  Those that aren't able to ignore their responses are offended, scared or nervous.  The other day one of our children's workers did not know how to respond after a similar negative response and was concerned for her safety.  I realize that a degree of this behavior is common with teenagers but our young adults are not teenagers and they are taking this behavior to a whole new level.

We have been upping our social skill lessons around here hoping that eventually it will click with them that most people find these behaviors offensive.  It is hard when the adults in question can't read other peoples non verbal responses so they don't understand they are giving off similar messages.

We have been studying facial expressions making note that most of the emotional information is carried in the shape of the mouth and the eyebrows.  Collecting pictures from magazines, photo albums and the internet we have been playing games labeling the emotion portrayed. Using mirrors we have been looking at our faces trying to make different expressions.  Once determining the emotion and getting better at this game then we added in the fact that each emotion has many degree's within that emotion ie from feeling happy to estatic or mad to raging.

Body language also has a role in our study noting that posture, gestures and movement also carry information about people's emotions.  Tone of voice is also being considered as it also conveys at least as much information as the actual words that are being said.  Being able to accurately read voice tone allows us to judge whether a person is angry, sad, happy, tired or scared - it also gives critical information about whether the person means what they say (are they being sarcastic? joking? sincere? teasing? friendly or unfriendly?)

By playing games, charades, and watching people (either from a distance or on television without sound) we have been practicing reading people's communication.  I am looking for ideas if you have any suggestions on teaching this valuable but complicated skill, please leave a comment.

1 comment:

  1. From what you've described, you're doing a great job of teaching. My guess is that repetition and reinforcement of what you're already doing will eventually make a difference. Thanks for adding this link to's Tuesday special needs link up.