The most obvious form of paralanguage is body language or kinesics.
This is the language of gestures, expressions, and postures. In North America, for instance, we commonly use our arms and hands to say good-bye, point, count, express excitement, beckon, warn away, threaten, etc.
We use our head to say yes or no, to smile, frown, and wink acknowledgement or flirtation. Our head and shoulder in combination may shrug to indicate that we do not know something.
Warm-Up #1: Hand Gestures : Ask students to demonstrate and describe the meaning of various hand gestures. You'll be amazed at how many there are. Discuss how facial expressions and other body movements influence the meaning of a hand gesture. What do hand gestures mean in different cultures?
Bar Body Behavior : Discuss body language in a bar or club. What personality types can you detect just by how people use their bodies? What are the obvious and subtle behaviors of the braggart, the flirt, the wallflower, the drunk, etc.? Consider such factors as personal space, posture, eye contact, speed and angle of movement.
Posture while you are sitting, standing and walking. Are you erect or slouching? Are your muscles in your legs, back and buttocks tense or relaxed?
Gait while you are walking. Is it long, strong, grounded, steady and even, or is it short, weak, uneven, unsteady, and ungrounded?
Facial muscles with your third eye when you are talking to others and when you are quiet and alone. Is your brow furrowed? Are your eyebrows being drawn together? Are your lips relaxed or tense? Are you smiling? Why?
Non-verbal communication extends beyond bodily actions to anything that sends messages. This includes much about who you are, and in particular where you fit into the social hierarchy. Such items include:
Dress, including style, tidiness, coordination.
Personal adornments, from jewelry to watches and badges.
Office and desk space at work, including size and type of computer, chair, etc.
Emotions are particularly expressed through non-verbal communication, where the voice and body can tell a lot more about how you feel than your words. In particular, if you feel unable to express emotions verbally, your words and body language can easily conflict, sending messages that may be interpreted as stress or deceit.
• Timing and duration of emotional gestures and emotions are off a normal pace. The display of emotion is delayed, stays longer it would naturally, then stops suddenly.
• Timing is off between emotions gestures/expressions and words. Example: Someone says "I love it!" when receiving a gift, and then smile after making that statement, rather then at the same time the statement is made.
• Gestures/expressions don’t match the verbal statement, such as frowning when saying “I love you.”
• Expressions are limited to mouth movements when someone is faking emotions (like happy, surprised, sad, awe, )instead of the whole face. For example; when someone smiles naturally their whole face is involved: jaw/cheek movement, eyes and forehead push down, etc.
Divide the class into small groups. Ask the groups to create a role play that involves ONLY body language and NO talking. The group can pick any scene and characters it wants. Encourage the group NOT to over-plan the role play.
After each role play, discuss what they believe was happening in the scene based on what they saw in the body language. What are the personalities of the people, their relationships with each other, the issues affecting the group, etc.?