S1.02 - Communication Skills Instruction, Page 2

Step 2: Consider body language

Wehmeyer, Agran, & Hughes (1999) provide a short summary of basic nonverbal communication skills. Consider how eye-contact, facial expressions, gestures and body movements all influence communication. Each will be summarized below.

Eye-contact (Banbury & Hebert, 1992) can reflect many things. Eye-contact that is:

Facial expressions communicate emotions and might include:

Body gestures or movements can be used to augment verbal communications. Gestures that are frequently seen and familiar include:

While there are many more subtle and not so subtle gestures and expressions, these expressions are all familiar. Look at whether body language and words are consistent in meaning. Conflicts between words and body language could lead to confusion. Body language can also be used to emphasize verbal language.

Step 3: Listening skills

Listening skills are another important component of effective communication skills. Consumers may need assistance in identifying auditory communication and then understanding the meaning. Weymeyer, Agran, and Hughes (1999) provide a strategy that can be employed to enhance listening skills. This includes:

  1. Looking at the speaker so that the speaker knows you are interested and listening,
  2. Asking questions to clarify or confirm meaning,
  3. Not Interrupting the speaker, and
  4. Taking notes to remember what was said.

Step 4: Practice effective communication

Since every situation is different and there are so many ways to communicate, it is important that people get the chance to practice effective communication skills. Some ways to practice are:

Effective communication will enhance every aspect of a consumer’s career development including job attainment (e.g., advocating for a specific job during the interview process), job maintenance (e.g., requesting an increase in pay based upon a job well done), and job promotion (e.g., demonstrating and stating relevant skills).


Page updated 10/30/06

End of basic content. Credits, navigation links and, where relevant, reference citations follow.

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Web Resources

Cross-cultural Communication Strategies. (1998). Retrieved July 30, 2004 from The University of Colorado, Conflict Research Consortium, International OnlineTraining Program on Intractable Conflict Website:http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/treatment/xcolcomm.htm

Cybercil: Independent Living Center on the World Wide Web. (n.d.). Communication: Styles & methods. Retrieved July 16, 2004 from http://www.cybercil.com/skills/comstyles.html

Cybercil: Independent Living Center on the World Wide Web. (n.d.). Communication skills. Retrieved July 17, 2004 from

Cybercil: Independent Living Center on the World Wide Web. (n.d.). Hearing/listening, - The other side of communication. Retrieved July 16, 2004 from http://www.cybercil.com/skills/listen.html

Superfund Community Involvement Toolkit. (February 20, 2004). Communication Strategies. Retrieved July 30, 2004 from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/tools/pdfs/3comstrats.pdf

Walters, J, S. 2004. Workplace communication essentials. In The CEO refresher: brain food for business. Retrieved July 19, 2004 from http://www.refresher.com/!jswessentials.html


Anderson, E. L., Dinas, P., & Seaton, K. (1995, September). Communication. In Fostering self-determination: A guide for educators. (pp. 7-8). Lawrence, KS: Full Citizenship, Inc.

Banbury, M. M., & Hebert, C. R. (1992). Do you see what I mean? Body language in classroom interactions. Teaching Exceptional Children, 25, 34-38.
Bolding, N. L., & Wehmeyer, M. L. (1999). Communicating effectively. In It's my future! Planning for what I want in my life: A self-directed planning process. Silver Spring, MD: The Arc of the United States.

Sands, D. J., & Wehmeyer, M. L. (1996). Self-determination across the life span: Independence and choice for people with disabilities. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

Wehmeyer, M. L., Agran, M., Hughes, C. (1999). Teaching assertiveness and effective communication skills. In M. Wehmeyer, M. Agran & C. Hughes (Eds.), Teaching self-determination to students with disabilities: Basic skills for successful transition. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

Supports 1 Index | S1.01 | S1.02 | S1.03 | S2.04 | S2.05 | S1.06 | S1.07 | S1.08 | S1.09 | S1.10 | S1.11 | S1.12 | S1.13 | S1.14 | S1.15 | S1.16 | S1.17 | S1.18

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