45 | Prompts for Non-Verbal Communication

64 Arts



This post is part of our ongoing exploration of the 64 Arts, specifically the art of Sign Language.

On the way home from work, yesterday, I was first cut off by one driver as I tried to merge into another lane and then blocked by two more. This prompted the usual rise in ire and more than one bit of non-standard–but quite universal–sign language.

I’m not exactly proud of that, but it does fit in well with our exploration of sign language, yes?

Rather than focus further on ASL, here are some prompts to get you thinking about the other sorts of signs we’re giving and receiving.

1. Picture this: Your new college roommate/partner at the office is from another country, doesn’t speak English, and you don’t speak their language either. How do you communicate? How do you accomplish goals?

2. Observation time! Wherever you spend your day–be it at the office, in a classroom, or on public transit–look at the people around you and examine their body language. What stories do they tell with how they carry themselves, where they put their arms, the expression on their face?

3. Spend a day not talking or writing, instead get what you need with hand, body, and facial gestures. How successful are you in getting your point across? (Perhaps best on a weekend–don’t want you giving your boss the silent treatment!) Alternately, film a “silent movie” and send it to a friend–see if they can translate it without hints.

I’d love to hear if you try any of these prompts and how they turn out!

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