Sample Curriculum Topic
Client will be able to make socially acceptable responses to basic body
Suggestions for instruction:
1. Begin by asking the client if they know what is meant by "body language." If
not, explain that the way we hold our body when we are standing or sitting can
tell other people about how we feel. Body language is a non-verbal form of
2. For example, if you don't want people to bother you when you don't feel
well, what might you do? - you might sit with your back to other people. You
might frown. You might fold your arms across your chest and turn away if you
are standing. Your posture - your body language - tells other people that right
now is not a good time to talk to you.
When a person turns away and pulls their shoulders together or folds their
arms, we say that their posture is "closed". This is a signal that they want to
be left alone.
3. If you do want to talk to other people, you might turn towards them and lean
in their direction if you are sitting. If you are standing, you might face the
person, look them in the eye, and smile at them.
When a person faces you with their arms apart at their sides or reaching
towards you, we say that their posture is "open." This is a signal that they
want to interact with you.
4. It is important to learn to "read" other people's body language. If you invade
the personal space of someone who really doesn't want to be bothered,
besides annoying them, you could possibly get hit by them.
5. If someone's back is to you and you want to talk to them, how do you know
if they don't want to talk to you, or maybe they can't hear and they don't even
know that you are there? You might touch them lightly on the shoulder to let
them know you are there. What would you do if they turned and saw you, but
then turned away from you with a frown on their face? That's probably a good
time to leave them alone. If they turn towards you and smile, that's a good
time to talk to them.
6. Reading body language is sometimes our best guess at what a person is
communicating. A person might smile at you to be polite even when they don't
want you to bother them. They might shake hands with you when meeting you
to be polite, but they still might not want to talk to you. Watch their body
language. Do they turn away from you and "close" their body? What does that
tell you? Do they face you and appear "open"?
7. If you suspect that someone doesn't want to be bothered, but you aren't
sure, it is always polite to ask - "Would you like to visit later?" or "Is this a good
time?" Generally, people will let you know if it is a good time. It is really
important to pay attention to the body language of people who cannot speak.
Remember, their behavior, how they act, is a form of communication. What
are they telling you?
(C) John Meyers 2003, 2010