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The Quality Improvement Agency for Lifelong Learning (QIA) 2008 1

Communication: Body language



Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 2
Learning objectives/outcomes ............................................................................................. 2
Resources required ............................................................................................................. 2
Starting points ...................................................................................................................... 3
Planning learning in multiple environments .......................................................................... 3
Suggested approach ............................................................................................................ 3
Differentiation to meet individual needs ............................................................................... 6
Challenges what learners might do next ........................................................................... 6
Embedding literacy, language and numeracy (LLN) ............................................................ 6
Useful activities .................................................................................................................... 7
Sheet 1: Body language image cards (Pack A) ................................................................... 8
Sheet 2: Body language behaviour description cards (Pack B) ......................................... 19
Session plan ...................................................................................................................... 24





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Introduction

Non-verbal clues play a significant role in interpersonal communication so we need to
include body language when looking at effective communication skills.

When we interact with customers, we naturally concentrate on what they say, but valuable
messages are also being transmitted by their faces and bodies about what they are feeling
and thinking as they talk to us. Understanding these body language messages and how to
read them helps learners work more successfully with customers.

In this activity you will provide learners with an opportunity to explore body language
through a card matching activity. Learners match a set of image cards with a set of
descriptor cards.

This activity uses an experiential learning approach where learners:

experience a situation, in this instance through viewing images
link what they have learned to their existing knowledge
develop and refine their understanding to form new knowledge.

In this way, the approach is effective in terms of helping learners to understand body
language and the effect it has on communication.

More information about experiential learning can be found in Part 3 of the CPD guide to
Customer care resources.


Learning objectives/outcomes

Learners should be able to:

explore communication in the context of customer care
identify and describe the different types of messages body language conveys when
interacting with customers in a work environment
demonstrate an understanding of how body language can be used to provide good
customer care.


Resources required

Copies of Sheet 1: Body language image cards (Pack A) 20 cards illustrating different
body language poses
Copies of Sheet 2: Body language behaviour description cards (Pack B) 20 cards
describing different emotions, feelings, attitudes and behaviours
Interactive body language resource and access to PCs (optional)
Flip chart and pens



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Starting points

Learners do not need any prior learning to take part in this communication activity.
However, it may be helpful to introduce learners to the theme of Customer care before the
session so they can learn effectively within that context. Resources to support this can be
found in the Exploring Customer care area.

Planning learning in multiple environments

The focus of this activity is effective communication through the use of body language,
with an emphasis on good customer care. You may want to explore with learners their
experience of good customer care in their personal lives and how body language plays an
important part in this.

You can also draw learners attention to areas of specific importance within their subject or
vocational area. Learners could explore this in their workplace.

Suggested approach

This activity uses an experiential learning approach where learners work in pairs to review
body language and the messages that this can convey.

Throughout this activity you will want to take into account that different cultures and people
with different life experiences will have differing views on certain aspects of body
language. Some examples of are listed below.

A Muslim female who has been encouraged to maintain a modest manner in her home
setting may routinely keep her head lowered and eyes averted in the company of men.
Seemingly dramatic hand gestures may come naturally to people of some nationalities.
Some older people may find the confident body postures and facial expressions of
some young people intimidating.


Stage 1

Explain the purpose of the activity and share the learning objectives with the learners. Ask
them what they already know about body language from their experience. This will allow
you to assess learners understanding of the topic and highlight that different cultures and
those with different life experience will have differing views on body language.

Give some extreme examples of body language that learners will be able to read clearly.

Explain that learners will work in pairs to explore the issue of body language and its
importance in the context of customer care.



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Stage 2

Ask learners to form pairs then distribute a set of cards to each pair. Explain that Card
Pack A contains images of individuals in a range of poses that illustrate body language.
Card Pack B contains descriptors of emotions, feelings, attitudes and behaviours.

Ask learners to lay out the cards from both packs with the image or description facing
them. Explain that learners should take turns to select an image card and match it with the
closest descriptor card or cards that, based on their experience, describes the image.

Add that learners should also discuss their selections within their pair and be able to
explain the factors that led them to make each selection. For example, what it was about
each characters stance or facial expression that made them make the match.

Advise learners that if a match cannot be found they may keep those image cards until the
end. If they are still not clear, they can write their own descriptor card.

Alternatively, ask learners to carry out the matching task using the Interactive resource
version of this activity instead of cards. Each pair should have access to the resource
online. Learners should work through the body language images on screen, choosing the
relevant descriptors and recording the reasons for their selections in the text boxes
supplied. These can be printed off so learners have their own copy of their results for the
discussion stage that follows.

Stage 3

When the pairs have matched all cards you can bring the discussion together, asking each
learner or pair to provide one matched example then checking with the wider group for
agreement. Where there is disagreement, ask those learners challenging the proposed
match to provide their rationale and an alternative selection. Encourage learners to ask
each other questions and discuss the rationale behind each match to extract their
interpretation of the images.

Explain that there are no right or wrong answers as body language is open to
interpretation and will mean different things to different people. Therefore, some cards may
match with more than one descriptor. You may also want to draw out some specific
examples of different interpretations of body language from different backgrounds and
cultures.

As learners work through each response, extract some key indicators that helped them
read body language. For example, does the facial expression, the positioning of arms and
other clues help determine what is being communicated? You may want to summarise
these points on a flip chart.

Throughout this stage you will want to make reference to body language in the context of
customer care and its impact. You could extend the discussion by asking learners to
provide their own examples of where they have seen body language have a positive or


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negative impact on the provision of customer care. You could also focus the discussion on
the context of the learners own subject or vocational area and their own work-places.

You may also wish to lead a discussion on differences affecting body language relating to
different cultures. Learners may be able to share their own experiences of gestures which
have particular meanings in their own culture, or you could give examples of your own.

Stage 4: Consolidation, checking and reflecting on learning

Ask learners to highlight which aspects of body language were easy to identify and those
which were more difficult. For those that were difficult ask learners to identify why this was
the case. Some possible responses are listed below.

Difficult to tell by just seeing the image
There could be different reasons why the character was standing in that way
Different people use different ways of communicating, but being different does not
make them wrong.

You will want to highlight that in most circumstances you will not be looking at an image,
but reading the body language of a real person so you will have other clues to help you
identify what body language means, such as the language people use and their tone of
voice. You may want to make a link to the Customer care activity Communication: Tone
of voice.

Summarise the session by asking learners to identify three things they have learned about
body language from this activity.

Finally, de-brief learners on:

what they have learned about their own body language through the activity and what
action they need to take
how this might apply in their subject or vocational area
what they might do differently as a result of this session
what parts of the activity helped them learn
which parts were less helpful
how they came to a whole-group answer
where else they could use this approach to learning.


Alternative approaches

You could carry out this activity as a role play activity in order to strengthen the messages.
Learners could pick a behaviour card from Pack B then adopt the pose and role play the
feelings, attitudes or behaviour described on the card. Learners could use their own
phrases to demonstrate each example. Other learners could assess the body language
and try to identify the word written in the card. In order to do this you would also need to
provide the learner with a scenario in which to act out the behaviour.


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Alternatively, you could select a range of customer encounter scenarios specific to your
subject or vocational area. Learners could use role play to demonstrate the different ways
in which body language could be used to communicate both good and poor messages to
customers. Again, you will need to provide learners with behaviour cards and a customer
care scenario.

If you are unable to do this with your own learners role playing the descriptors, you could
enlist the support of college drama learners to demonstrate a range of body language
poses. This could also be filmed for future use with other learners.

Differentiation to meet individual needs

You might want to support less confident learners by pairing them with more confident
learners. Learners could take on a role in the matching activity. For example, a learner
could look at the card and suggest in their own words what they think the body language is
saying, while the other learner finds the card with the nearest descriptor.

More confident learners may want to create their own images demonstrating body
language. Support them in their use of cameras and mobile phones to create images that
reflect their subject or vocational area.

Challenges what learners might do next

Learners could develop role play further by making the words out of keeping with the body
language to illustrate that in most circumstances body language overrides the spoken
words.

Learners may wish to view the Customer care Storyboards in the Exploring Customer
care area as an additional stimulus to explore body language.

Embedding literacy, language and numeracy (LLN)

Every learning activity includes many different opportunities to develop LLN skills. Always
try to find a naturally occurring opportunity where learners can immediately appreciate the
relevance and importance of the skills they are learning to use.

Your LLN specialist may be able to help you identify specific levels and curriculum
references relevant to this activity and to create engaging learning activities which develop
these skills. You will be able to identify the general type of LLN skills required as you
probably use them every day.

The activity can be used to help learners develop the speaking and listening skills below.

At Level 1, speak clearly in a way which suits the situation.

Understand that pace, volume and precision of articulation vary depending on the
situation, for example speaking face-to-face, on the telephone, or to a group.


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Speak clearly in a small team so as to be heard and understood, for example in a
meeting to plan a street party.

(Adult literacy core curriculum reference SLc/L1.1)

At Level 2, make requests and ask questions to obtain detailed information in familiar and
unfamiliar contexts.

Understand that getting detailed information involves wording questions carefully, and
asking follow-up questions to probe further, if necessary.
Ask for information on an unfamiliar subject requiring precise details, for example how,
when and where to register a birth, marriage or death.

(Adult literacy core curriculum reference SLc/L2.2)

Useful activities

Watching video clips of people that demonstrate good examples of speaking with
appropriate delivery speed, emphasis, and volume.
Practising using the same phrases in different situations, such as on the telephone, to
an individual or to a large group.
Learners discussing situations in their own lives where different degrees of clarity are
needed. This could be speaking to their boss, or explaining something to a young child
or very old person.



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Sheet 1: Body language image cards (Pack A)

20 cards illustrating different body language poses with some examples provided below.

1) Happy
2) Confused
3) Angry
4) Frustrated
5) Thoughtful
6) Welcoming
7) Tired
8) Serious
9) Anxious
10) Distracted
11) Interested
12) Self-conscious
13) Dejected
14) Arrogant
15) Excited
16) Enthusiastic
17) Polite
18) Surprised
19) Relaxed
20) Irritable


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Sheet x.2: Body language behaviour description cards (Pack B)
















Happy

1


Confused

2


Angry

3


Frustrated

4


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Thoughtful

5


Welcoming

6














Tired

7


Serious

8


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Anxious

9


Distracted

10













Interested

11


Self-conscious

12






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Dejected

13


Arrogant

14














Excited

15


Enthusiastic

16










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Surprised

18


Irritable

20


















Polite

17




Relaxed

19


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Session plan

Aim: To help learners explore body language and its impact on customer care.


Learners should be able to:

explore communication in the context of customer care
identify and describe the different types of messages body language can convey
when interacting with customers in a work environment
demonstrate an understanding of how body language can be used to provide good
customer care.

Time Teacher plan Learner activity Resources

0-5
mins.
Stage 1
Set the scene and test
learners understanding
of body language.

Group discussion.
5-25
mins.
Stage 2
Introduce activity and
form small groups. Brief
groups.

Support groups as they
complete the matching
task.

Form pairs.
Understand briefing.



Perform task on
matching cards.
Sheet 1: Body language
image cards (Pack A)

Sheet 2:Body language
behaviour description
cards (Pack B)
or
Interactive body language
resource

25-45
mins.
Stage 3
Pairs share their
responses with the
whole group.

Merged group
discussion.


Flip chart

Printed response
45-60
mins.
Stage 4
Consolidating, checking
and reflecting.

Group discussion.


.




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Assessment of learning objectives/outcomes

Feedback from each group and creation of a group answer sheet.

Differentiation to meet individual needs

Check that suggested poses are suitable and support more confident learners in the
process of creating their own challenge poses for each other.

Teacher evaluation

Learner feedback

Consider which parts of the session
were effective, and why.
Consider whether the activities were suitable for
all learners and whether the session helped to
develop the expert learners.

Personal, learning and thinking skills developed

Team workers:

collaborate with others to work towards common goals
reach agreements and manage discussions to achieve results.

Creative thinkers:

ask questions and extend their thinking.

Independent enquirers:

identify questions to answer and problems to resolve.


Literacy, language and numeracy skills developed

Language

At Level 1, speak clearly in a way which suits the situation.
At Level 2, make requests and ask questions to obtain detailed information in
familiar and unfamiliar contexts.