In this session we explore how we communicate, and the importance of listening. We will also discover different elements that constitute communication, and then look specifically at texting as a means of communication.
Young people will:
- Explore listening skills and the importance of listening
- Explore how we communicate with each other, both verbally and non-verbally
- Explore the use of texting and emoji’s as a communication tool
- Flip chart paper
- A5 scrap paper
- Read the entire session plan and familiarise yourself with the activities.
- Print the ‘Active Listening’ picture sheet and cut out pictures individually.
- Plenty of A5 scrap paper for the young people to draw on.
PROCEDURE – Total time: 90 minutes
Introduction – 5 mins
Introduce the topic by reading the aims of the session.
Warm Up/Name Game – 10 mins
You can use your own name game, but try and choose one that is active and needs focus. We recommend:
- Ask the young people to stand in a circle.
- Explain that we are going to introduce ourselves one by one to the rest of the group.
- Tell the group that they will introduce themselves using their first name and a positive adjective that best describes them. Explain what and adjective is (it is a describing word) and emphasise the importance of the adjective they chose being positive.
- Ask the young people to also think about an action for their adjective, give an example e.g. my name is Sam and I’m Super (doing a flying Superman pose). If young people struggle to come up with an adjective encourage the group to think of one, and an appropriate pose, for them.
- One by one, ask the group to introduce themselves using their name and their action. After each person has gone, the rest of the group will all say “hello” to each person after they have introduced themselves doing the action e.g. “Hi Super Sam” (with whole group do the flying Superman pose).
- Continue until each young person (and you!) has introduced themselves.
Active Listening – 30 mins
Write the words ‘active listening’ and ‘paraphrasing’ on flip chart paper and ask the group to call out what they think they mean. Record their answers. Summarise the responses and give these definitions:
‘Active listening is using your body language to show you are listening, such as nodding and eye contact.’
‘Paraphrasing is when someone tells you something and you summarise back to them what they have said, to check you have understood.’
Explain that we are going to do an exercise to look at how active listening and paraphrasing help in communication. Split the group into pairs and ask them to sit back to back. Give one person a picture from the ‘Active Listening’ picture sheet, and the other person a blank sheet of paper and pen.
Round 1: The person with the picture has to describe what they see using only words and the other person must draw it without speaking. (Note: They should describe where to draw lines and shapes rather than trying to give clues as to what the picture is).
Round 2: Reverse roles so one is describing and the other is drawing. They can both speak this time but must stay back to back.
Round 3: This time the pair can face each other. One will still describe the picture but they can use words, paraphrasing to check and body language.
Ask the group to share their pictures and have a discussion about how it went. Ask them to reflect on which methods of communication were most useful. What was easiest/hardest? Why might that be? Discuss how we know when a person isn’t listening and how important it is to feel you are being listened to.
(If you have time, ask each couple to join up with another couple to form a small group to discuss the questions above.)
How Do We Communicate? – 20 mins
Split whole the group in to smaller groups according to number, with no more than five in each group. Tell the group we are going to think about “communication”.
Give each group five minutes to think about and discuss – how do we communicate and what are the different elements involved in communication? Feedback from each group and write these up on flip chart. For elements of communication, the discussion/list should include:
- Voice (tone, inflection etc.)
- Nonverbal communication (body language and facial expression)
- Words used
Ask them in their groups to try and guess which of these elements of communication has the most/least impact in a conversation, and consider the actual percentages for the impact each element, the answers are:
- Voice – 38%
- Non-verbal communication – 55%
- Words used – 7%
Source: Albert Mehrabian’s 7-38-55 Rule of Communication.
Ask the group if these percentages are a surprise? Can they think of other forms of non-verbal communication?
Still in their small groups ask the young people, given our discussions about communication, to spend five minutes discussing the following:
- What does this tell us about texting?
- What might the problems be with texting?
- If non-verbal communication accounts for over half of our communication, is texting an effective communication tool?
Use theses prompts if necessary:
- Context – you don’t know where people are or what they are doing when they receive a text, i.e. they’re busy and can’t reply, sender feels ignored.
- No body language i.e. an exclamation mark could mean excitement or anger!
- Missing emotional content.
Feedback and record comments on flip chart paper.
The Power of the Emoji – 20 mins
Give each group a sheet of flip chart paper and give them five minutes to draw as many emojis as they can think of. Ask each group in turn to share/feedback their flip chart, the other groups can add any they may want to include.
Ask them to discuss how they would feel if they received the following text message:
“It’s OK, don’t worry.”
Then, ask them to choose three emojis from their flip chart that will give different meanings to the text. Ask them to write the text three times on their piece of flip chart, followed by their chosen emoji. Feedback from each group using the following prompts:
- How many variations have you come up with?
- What does this tell us about the probability of a text without and emoji being misinterpreted?
- What does the emoji tell us?
- Does it give us the full emotional story?
Reflect and Review – 10 mins
Ask the group:
- What did you enjoy about the session?
- Did you learn anything new?
- If we are talking about communication, was there anything missing from the session?
Closing Game “1 to 10” – 5 mins
The group must count to ten without arranging an order of who says which number, and without any other verbal communication. If two people say any given number at the same time, they must start again from the beginning. Encourage the group to make eye contact with each other and emphasise that it’s not about doing it quickly, but about communicating well in order to get the task completed. Where eye contact is challenging, ask them to listen carefully. You could increase the target number to 20/50/100, to up the ante!