Everyday English 2
Everyday English 2

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Everyday English 2

2 Non-verbal communication

Described image
Figure 2 Communicating through body language

In a Functional Skills English Level 2 or an Essential Skills Wales Communication Level 2 discussion, you gain marks for using appropriate non-verbal communication.

Non-verbal communication is all about the subtle cues between people that give an idea of how they are feeling. Non-verbal communication can include body language, tone of voice, facial expressions and hand gestures.

When you speak, much of the message that you convey comes through your tone of voice and body language rather than the words you use. This means that whether you are trying to persuade your friends to watch the movie you like, presenting information at a staff meeting or answering questions at a job interview, it is important that you always use positive body language.

Activity 6 Non-verbal body language

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Watch the short video below. Make a note of all the non-verbal signals that are demonstrated.

Download this video clip.Video player: bltl_vid_05_eng_5_non-verbal.mp4
Skip transcript

Transcript

SPEAKER
When you speak, much of the message that you convey comes through your tone of voice and body language, rather than the words you use. This means that whether you are presenting information at a meeting, answering questions at a job interview, or joining in with a discussion-- you should try to be aware of your own body language, and keep it positive.
For example, leaning in slightly when someone is speaking demonstrates that you are actively listening. While leaning away signals that you are not really that interested in what they are saying or that you even feel hostile.
Crossing your arms can mean that you don't agree with what is being said, that you're not feeling confident, or that you're simply not interested. If your arms are open and your hands are together in your lap or on the table, it shows others that you are open to what they are saying.
Talking with your hands is an easy way to incorporate gestures into your conversation. Emphasising words with your hands can lead you to appear more credible and assured. Just be careful not to make it a dance party.
Making eye contact is another way of communicating positively. Keeping your head up and look the person you are talking to in the eyes, both when they are talking to you and when you are talking to them. There is no need to stare them down so remember to blink and to look away occasionally. Good eye contact lets others know that you are interested in the conversation.
You can show empathy with simple actions of agreement like nodding your head or smiling. These actions let people know that you are on their side. And that you identify with their plight. You can also laugh, when it's appropriate.
End transcript
 
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

The video features both positive and negative non-verbal signals.

  • Leaning in shows that you are actively listening.

  • Leaning back can suggest that you are not interested in the discussion or even feel hostile about it.

  • Folding your arms gives a signal that you are not interested in what’s going on.

  • Relaxing your arms, so that they hang comfortably at your sides, or resting your hands in your lap, shows that you are open to what others are saying.

  • Talking with your hands and emphasising words with gestures can make you appear more credible and assured.

  • Making eye contact lets others know you are interested in the conversation.

  • Nodding and smiling are ways of showing empathy and letting others know you understand what they are saying. Laughing is another way of doing this – when appropriate.

Activity 7 Positive body language

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Decide whether each of the pictures below shows generally positive or negative body language or elements of both.

Described image
Figure 3 Talking

a. 

Positive


b. 

Negative


c. 

Both


The correct answer is c.

Discussion

Both people in this picture are making eye contact and look engaged in the conversation. They are turned towards each other and their arms are open rather than folded.

However, they are leaning away from each other and neither is smiling. He seems to be pointing in her direction.

This picture seems to show both positive and negative body language.

Described image
Figure 4 Leaning back

a. 

Positive


b. 

Negative


c. 

Both


The correct answer is c.

Discussion

This man looks very relaxed, happy and confident! But his body language seems a bit too informal, as his shoes are off and his feet are up on the desk. His body language – and his feet! – could make someone who is talking to him feel quite uncomfortable.

Described image
Figure 5 Discussing

a. 

Positive


b. 

Negative


c. 

Both


The correct answer is a.

Discussion

Both people here look interested in the discussion. They are leaning in slightly and are focused on whatever is on the sheet of paper. The woman is pointing something out with her pen and smiling. The body language is positive.

Described image
Figure 6 Listening

a. 

Positive


b. 

Negative


c. 

Both


The correct answer is c.

Discussion

The woman on the right is displaying negative body language: she has her arms folded and her expression suggests she doesn’t believe or agree with what is being said. The man to her left has a more neutral expression, although he looks a little concerned. His body language is more open.

Described image
Figure 7 Explaining

a. 

Positive


b. 

Negative


c. 

Both


The correct answer is a.

Discussion

The woman talking in this picture is using her hands to emphasise her point and her arms are open. She seems to be making eye contact with one of her listeners; her body language is positive. The woman next to her is making eye contact and looks as if she is really listening.

Described image
Figure 8 Shaking hands

a. 

Positive


b. 

Negative


c. 

Both


The correct answer is a.

Discussion

These two women look happy to be making contact! They both smile and look at each other as they shake hands. Both show positive body language.

Described image
Figure 9 Head in hands

a. 

Positive


b. 

Negative


c. 

Both


The correct answer is c.

Discussion

The man on the left looks frustrated and upset. He is grimacing, his eyes are closed and he looks as if he wants to tear his hair out. His body language expresses very negative feelings.

The woman on the right, however, looks concerned but calm. Her facial expression is open. She is leaning towards him and reaching out to comfort him. Her body language is positive.

FSE_2a

Did you know if you study a paid part-time course with the OU in Wales you could get up to £4,500* to help with your living costs?

Find out more

*Eligibility rules apply for financial support.