Non-verbal communication games can be just as much fun to play as those in which participants engage in conversation. As a bonus, players learn lessons about human behavior when they take part in silent games at parties or on the job, where morale building is critical to a harmonious workplace. Study faces. Observe body language. Master the art of non-verbal communication and you’ll be a winner -- even if another player scores more points.
Follow the Leader
Appoint a leader to start this non-verbal game. Explain the rules: Players must follow the leader’s actions to the letter. At any point the leader chooses, she indicates her replacement—without uttering a word. This transfer of power means participants will be required to closely follow non-verbal cues they observe to follow the action. Figuring out how to react to this non-verbal leadership transfer helps players learn to read visual clues—even when there’s no game at play.
Which Came First, Chicken or Egg?
Gather a group of players of no more than 12 players. Send three out of the room. Ask the leader to act out the task of “catching a chicken.” Beckon absent players one at a time, asking them to help the leader with her task. After a minute, summon another player. After everyone has had a chance to help catch chickens, break the silence by asking players what they thought they were doing—answers will surprise everyone. Next, ask each what stopped them from seeking help from others in the room, as such action wasn’t prohibited. Discuss the importance of following directions.
Introductions All Around
Ask pairs of people to exchange personal information to get to know each other. Give the game players five minutes to exchange tidbits about schooling, family, work and hobbies. Call time and form a circle. Based on information gleaned during the chat, each person must introduce her partner—without saying a word. It’s incumbent upon players to rely on their imaginations and gathered information to perform this fun, non-verbal introduction game.
Compile a list of people, phrases, places or other information related to the group. For example, a corporate HR head using this game as a conversation starter may wish to write down the names of company decision makers. Place the names into a bowl. Remind players that no talking is allowed. Ask each player to draw a slip and then give non-verbal clues to the others so they can guess what’s on the slip of paper.
Gather game players. Hand out a sheet of paper featuring six individual photos of people. Ask each person to write the emotions they observe on each face without sharing feelings or thoughts about expressions, poses, etc. Collect the sheets. List the characteristics each person attributed to pictures on a board. Open the floor to discussion about how people—particularly men versus women—visually process and decode information from just a photo.
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.