Body language games for adults

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Using body language means communicating with body movements and positioning, including eye contact, facial expressions, posture and gestures.

Up to 93 percent of communication takes place through body language and only seven percent through words, according to psychologist James Borg in 2010, but we don’t always pay attention to what are bodies are saying. Body language games can be used as ice breakers, team building exercises, or as an introduction to training in non-verbal communication (References 1).

Circle games

Circle games make good ice breakers and warm-ups for a group of adults and can be used to demonstrate the power of non-verbal communication. In the Butterfly Effect game one person starts by throwing the ball to another until everyone has received the ball once. Each person looks at the person they threw the ball to and imitates the movements of that person. Movements start small and through the “butterfly effect” become amplified. Guess the Leader has one person standing in the centre of the circle. He or she must identify the person in the circle who is initiating body movements that the rest of the participants are following.

Miming and acting

Split the participants into equal groups and have each group nominate a volunteer. The volunteers leave the room and decide among themselves an object. When they return to their groups they must act out the object without speaking. The groups can ask closed questions for yes or no answers. You could also have volunteers miming an important event in their lives, or acting out a conflict. After the game brainstorm the different methods participants used to get their point across and how they communicated emotion through body language.

Team games

Emphasise the importance of body language when working in a team by having groups design a product (try shoes, clothes, or a vehicle) on a large sheet of paper without using any verbal communication. Or have each member of the team write an emotion on a piece of paper. Each person takes it in turn to pick an emotion which they must then show on their face to the rest of the group, who will guess what is being portrayed.

Pair work

Look at the impact of body language on close communications by pairing up participants and giving them a variety of subjects to talk about; for example football, knitting, fishing, travel. One half of the pair talks about the subject while the other shows their attitude to the topic by using body language; smiling, eye contact, crossed legs. The person speaking must make notes about whether or not their partner is interested in the subject.