This NIE activity on communication is from KRPs’s Life’s Basics Let’s Talk guide.
People start communicating as soon as they’re born. As newborns, we cry when we’re hungry, uncomfortable or just upset, and smile or giggle when we’re feeling good. As we grow we learn to use our bodies to communicate by pointing or nodding our heads toward something we want. Around age 2 years we start to add our first words to our communication system. Those words quickly expand into sentences we can use to ask questions, give answers, discuss, and disagree.
Communication is a great thing. It lets us ask for more ice cream or tell someone we like them or that we’re scared. Unfortunately, we can also use communication to fight, insult, and gossip. Working on your communication skills will help you get what you want or need more easily, and can keep you from unintentionally hurting someone else’s feelings or being misunderstood.
Communication has two parts: 1) verbal communication – words 2) nonverbal communication – the tone of voice someone uses when speaking; how someone is standing or moving while speaking; the kind of gestures they use or their facial expression.
Nonverbal and verbal communication work together to help us understand a situation. For example, the word “hey” can be used as a greeting, a warning, or a way to get someone’s attention. How do we know the difference? By the nonverbal “cues” we pick up from the speaker.
Can you tell the differences in the following scenarios?
Waving and smiling, your friend calls out, “Hey!” (Is your friend greeting you? Warning you? Feeling threatened?)
Hands up in front of his chest, eye-brows furrowed, a classmate firmly says, “Hey!” when you accidentally brush by him. (Is your classmate greeting you? Warning you? Feeling threatened?)
A construction worker is waving both hishands, running toward you. In an urgent-sounding voice, he calls out, “Hey!” (Is the construction worker greeting you? Warning you? Feeling threatened?)
In each of these situations, the verbal communication of “hey” combined with nonverbal cues helps you fully understand the situation.
WHAT’S YOUR BODY SAYING ABOUT YOU? Does your mom seem to always know whether you’re being truthful or not? She’s not psychic. Despite what you might be saying, you’re giving her all the information she needs through your body language.
Body language is what your body is telling people about you. Experts say 65 percent to 90 percent of every conversation is interpreted through body language. If you’re saying one thing, but your body is saying another, people are going to “listen” to your body language more than your words.
For example, if you shift your eyes and look away while speaking, people will think you’re not being truthful. If you stand with your legs apart and your hands on your hips, even if you’re trying to say some-thing nice, your body is communicating aggression or anger.
How can you be seen as a leader? Stand up straight, make eye contact, and smile. Those signals say you’re confident and energetic. Body language is so powerful that there are countless books and seminars available to help people master the art of body language. Controlling your body language can help you get through a nerve-wracking situation, such as a speech or a job interview.
•When you read a news story in the newspaper, you rely on the reporter to tell you the whole story. Part of that story is going to be the subject’s nonverbal communication. Read through a few stories and circle any instances where a reporter includes a person’s nonverbal cues. Write your own story and describe your character’s nonverbal cues.
•Look through the photos in your newspaper and, without reading the captions, see if you can figure out what is happening in the photos or how the person is feeling just from the person’s body language. Now read the captions. Tell what made you right or not.
•Even a comic strip character can have body language. Go through the comic strip section of the paper or look at the political cartoons and write down the parts of the drawing that tell you how the character is feeling. For example, are their eyebrows raised? Are they smiling? What are they doing with their hands? Are they standing or sitting? Leaning forward or sitting back?
You can download this worksheet by clicking on the following link: legacy.grandforksherald.com/pdfs/PG03R.pdf