Life Skills Development/Module Three/Methods

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Methods of Communication

Communication can either be verbal or non-verbal. The process is affected by the context in which it occurs. The nature of the communication can either help or hinder its effectiveness. The physical setting in which the communication takes place will determine the tone and language that will be used and affect the process. The social context involving the nature of the relationship between individuals will affect the tone and nature of the communication. The time of day and the climatic condition under which the communication occurs will impact the clarity. The cultural background, experience and knowledge of peoples also affect their language and understanding of others. Connotative meaning of words within cultures determines the understanding of messages sent and received. The special needs for example auditory, visual, economical, of individuals will also impact their ability to communicate effectively.


  • Verbal
  • Non-verbal
  • Oculesis
  • Haptics
  • Proxemics
  • Paralanguage

Verbal Communication

Verbal communication - includes written and oral communication. It is communicating using words and speaking.

  • Face to Face,
  • Telephone,[cellphones]
  • Video-conferencing

Written communications

  • electronic (internet, text messaging)
  • mass media (television)
  • print media (brochure, fax, letter, memo, report)

Elements of the Voice

The medium for verbal communication is the voice. The voice can be adjusted according to:

  • Tone - Refers to the manner in which someone speaks. It can be high, medium or low. Each tone reflects a level of emotion. High Tone Is used to express anger and authority, Medium Tone Is used in a normal conversation and Low Tone Is used when reflecting sadness or passiveness.
  • Articulation - Refers to the accent of the person reflected in the way words are pronounced.
  • Speed - This is the pace at which the words are spoken. It is advisable to speak slowly for clarity.
  • Volume - Refers to the level/pitch at which words are projected.

Non-verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication involves gestures, gaze, expressions, and other symbols capable of substituting for words and conveying information. Such messages can be communicated through:

  • gestures
  • body language
  • posture
  • facial expression
  • eye contact

or by the use of objects such as:

  • clothing,
  • hairstyles
  • symbols
  • information graphics (charts, graphs, maps)

Elements of Body Language

There are four distinctive elements of body language:

  • Oculesis – using the eyes to convey messages
  • Haptics - using touch to convey messages(hand shaking, stroking)
  • Proxemics – using your personal space to convey messages
  • Paralanguage - using the pitch, pace, tone, rhythm rather than the spoken words to

convey a message. Body language can be used either voluntarily or involuntarily. Voluntary body language refers to movements, gestures and poses intentionally made by a person e.g. conscious smiling, hand movements and imitations. Generally, movements made with full or partial intention and an understanding of what it communicates can be considered voluntary. It can apply to many types of soundless communication. Involuntary body language on the other hand quite often takes in the form of facial expressions, and has therefore been suggested as a means to identify the emotions of a person with whom one is communicating.

The impact of non-verbal cues on the communication process

Non-verbal communication is important to relationship development, it is the main mode used to communicate feelings and attitudes. These cues can assist in giving meaning to the verbal message.

Non-verbal cues can also contradict the verbal messages and are often accepted in place of the verbal message. Reactions are often based on what the other person does rather than what they say.

Unfortunately, there are no universal guidelines to interpreting non-verbal cues hence interpretations are often based on the prevailing situation, context, location, culture, background and experiences which might be different from the senders. The sender may not have attached a consious meaning behind the behaviour or might be deliberately sending the wrong signals to avoid a situation.

Tips to interpret non-verbal cues

  • Place non-verbal cues in context.
  • Group clusters of non-verbal cues.
  • Consider how long you have known the sender.
  • If possible clarify meaning of non-verbal cues.

Assignment & Activities:

1. Can you describe the possible messages these forms of body language send? Note whether they are positive or negative.

  • Smile is natural and comfortable.

This communicates ________________________________________________________________

  • No Smile or forced Smile.

This communicates ________________________________________________________________

  • Body movement is relaxed, yet deliberate and controlled.

This communicates ________________________________________________________________

  • Body movement is rushed and hurried.

This communicates ________________________________________________________________

2. In pairs learners will compile a bag/envelope with a list of emotions on individual slips of paper e.g.Fear, sadness, surprise, happiness, disgust, anger. Each person will take turns to select a paper from the bag/envelop and use facial expressions to convey the emotion selected while their partner identify and record the emotion.

3. Learners will create a list of some non-verbal cues used when they are attracted to a member of the opposite sex using the following catergories:

  • Body Language
  • Eye Contact
  • Facial Expression
  • Gestures
  • Posture
  • Voice
  • Proximity

4. Learners will view a movie for ten minutes with the sound off and describe their interpretation of the movie based on the non-verbal cues. The movie will then be viewed again with the audio on. Learners will compare what is actually happening with their original interpretations.

5. In pairs learners will view and discuss pictures depicting different scenes and record their understanding of the message being portrayed in the picture.

6. In groups of four learners discuss times they may have misinterpreted body language and the impact it had on their relationship/situation.

7. Case Study: Gloria goes on a job interview for the position of assistant to the manager. She is wearing a very tight shirt with food stains, with very short pant and a contrasting pair of shoes. (Get picture to highlight Gloria’s outfit). learners discuss in small groups the appropriateness of the attire to the occasion.


There are many variables that can influence the choice of communication method to be used in any situation. Learners should carefully explore the use of all methods and determine which is most comfortable and appropriate for use in their varying situations.


How will I assess my progress

You will be assessed through Self and Peer assessment

1. Discuss with another learner the varying methods of communication and how each impact you. Identify the method that is least effective and identify strategies that can be employed to improve this. Identify your strenghts and discuss why you have been so successful using those methods. You could use role plays to enhance your points.

Self assessment

Questions for Reflection

Can I identify the varying methods of communication?

What are the methods I am comfortable using whilst communicating?

How do I deal with those methods that are necessary but I am not compfortable using?

How does variables such as the environemnt, prevailing situation or language affect the method I choose to use in the communication process?

What do you expect of others in this process?

Peer assessment

Presentations, discussions and dramatizations

Use role play to familiarize your peers with your strategies and have them critique the methods used.

Discuss with your peers how they feel about how you communicate with them.

Present scenarios of your experiences and share your approach to plroblem solving.

Support Materials

  1. Handouts
  2. Videos
  3. Skits
  4. Power point presentation
  5. Comics
  6. Animations