During a recent hearing in the court, there were several people involved, the victim, witnesses, the accused, two lawyers, the judge, the jury, and the families and friends of both the accused and the victim. It was a case of assault where a stepfather was allegedly reported to have constantly abused his twelve-year-old stepdaughter. During my observation outside the Supreme Court, I noted that the non-verbal form that I understood easily was the use of facial expressions and the movement of the mouth. At first, one lawyer by the side of the accused stood and spoke, followed by the accused who walked forward and took a book in his hand. As he went forward, people were murmuring and their faces revealed anger and criticism. His lawyer kept speaking as he responded. A few minutes later, a young girl walked forward to where the accused was, held a book in her hand and spoke a few words then handed over the book to her lawyer. He then started speaking as she responded. From their lip movement and facial expressions, it was evident the lawyers were questioning both their clients. As the young girl responded to the lawyer, tears formed in her eyes and she began crying expressing pain and hate. This means she was expressing how traumatized she was because of what happened to her. Whenever this young girl cried, people would shake their heads in pity and others looking at the accused as though they were condemning him.
Secondly, in the campus sports field with the coach, players of different teams, sports announcers and the audience present, people were running around and looking energetic. Everyone’s face looked excited as they passed the ball to other players. Two teams were competing against each other for the trophy. During the game, whenever a player committed an offence, the coach could show a yellow card and the player could go back to playing. On the other hand, whenever the coach showed a red card, a player would be replaced with another and the audience could stand up with excitement. Their facial expressions revealed happiness. In the field, the coach used signs to communicate with his players and players used body language to communicate with the audience, for example to show their love and appreciation for their support.
In the classroom during an arts lesson with the students and the teacher present, the teacher used signs and body language to communicate with the students. He called two students forward and assigned them responsibilities, each having his own equipments. He used his body language like pointing using fingers to direct both students on what steps to take. Both students were to involve the class during the activities so they used a video of arts as they imitated what the people did on the screen. This way, they all learnt to communicate better after watching the video. Later, the teacher questioned the students using body language and signs to assess their understanding. The students in return responded by using signs and body language as well. One of the students presented a paper with a drawing to indicate all that was on video.
In the campus library during a group discussion with four students present, they were using their books by pointing and describing page numbers with their body language to start. The leader seemed to be in control because no student would respond unless she pointed to her. From her facial expression, one could tell she was pleased with the question or answer passed across to the other group members. The context of their communication was definitely formal because it was not based on social norms. During their conversations, they used several ways like sign language, body language and lip reading to understand each other. This was effective because they could respond to the questions in their books and explore all explanations.
Lastly, in a local church during a worship service, the priest used his finger movements to guide the congregation on what scriptures to read during the service. As others sang and read the scriptures, he also used his sign language skills to engage others who used non-verbal communication. This way, he engaged everyone in all the processes followed during the service. The priest’s way of communication was effective because everyone understood and they were able to respond to the scriptures as well as present their own revelations of the scriptures.
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