This exercise helps illustrate an important point on body language. As soon as we see a person, we read their body language quickly to establish their mood and we can be fairly good at this. The problem is that the mood of the interaction is then set from that point onwards and this can be contagious. This emotional contagion can then work against us as we may react with the same negative emotions even when there is no cause for it. The exercise helps people see this non-verbal phenomenon and increases their awareness. For example, this can help people at workplace to control their body language when interacting with colleagues and also helps them not to get affected by other people’s moods and emotions, thereby improving their relationships.
Observe body language and guess the emotion portrayed.
What You Need
- A series of “emotion cards” with the following emotions written on them:
- Ask delegates to sit on one side of the room so if someone is standing on the other side, they can all see him.
- Ask for a volunteer.
- Give an “emotion card” to the volunteer.
- Ask him to leave the room and then come back with the body language that represents the emotion written on the card, effectively role playing it.
- When the volunteer is back in the room, the rest of the group should guess how the volunteer feels by reading his body language. Most often, people don’t have any problem reading the body language and the emotions. They are also quick to respond in the same way and feel the same.
- Get the volunteer to confirm the emotion and discuss accordingly.
- Ask for another volunteer, give another card and repeat the process.
- Continue until everyone had a chance to role play a body language signal.
- Finish with a brief discussion.
Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes
Activity: 10 minutes
Group Feedback: 5 minutes
How easy was it to role play certain body language signals given an emotion? How easy was it to read it? How did you feel when confronted with a person with such emotion? For example when someone was angry, did you feel concerned or potentially angry as well? Did your mood change as a result of the other person’s strong emotions? When someone was depressed, did you start to feel depressed as well? How can you control your emotions to avoid affecting other’s emotions or being affected by their negative emotions?