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Non-Verbal Communication

Even when we ‘say the right things’, the message can be lost if our body language suggests we’re thinking something very different.

Non-verbal communication is often described as ‘body language’.

Body language says a lot about our interest and engagement in the communication we’re having. Even when we ‘say the right things’, the message can be lost if our body language suggests we’re thinking something very different.

Think about the following four elements of body language in your communication with patients/clients.
  • Body posture: (how we stand or sit): we’ll communicate much better when we bring our face to the same level as the other person and do not tower above them if he or she is in bed or a chair. We should be relaxed, not fidgety and impatient. And it’s important that we adopt an ‘open’ stance, showing the person that we want to be there and are not desperate to rush away and do something else – standing well back from the person with your arms crossed and flicking your eyes constantly towards the door isn’t exactly an encouragement to good communication!
  • Eye contact: keep good eye contact with the person, but don’t stare – and remember that for people from some cultures, making eye contact can seem a bit rude. This emphasises the importance of knowing about the individuals we’re caring for and learning how to approach them in the right way.
  • Facial expression: so much of what we are thinking is given away by the expressions on our face. We may not even realise we are rolling our eyes, grimacing or stifling a yawn, none of which will encourage patients/clients to keep talking to us. We need to be aware of our facial expressions and control them at all times.
  • Touch: touch is a very powerful means of communication. Lightly touching a person’s hand can convey your concern and affection for them. But as with eye contact, the touch has to be appropriate, and there are important cultural issues around touch that need to be understood. It’s also important that patient/clients give permission for you to touch them, something we looked at in more detail in consent.
To read this articlein its entirety click HERE.

If you would like to learn more about body language, consider taking our course Decoding Body Language: What Every Nurse Needs to Know

This course is designed for nurse clinicians to improve care and compassion by actively assessing self and others for non-verbal cues, as well as the environment in diverse healthcare settings. The purpose of this course is to help nurses learn how to accurately interpret body language cues and assess self for negatively-perceived body language. After taking this course, the learner should be able to identify familiar non-verbal cues as well as determine the importance of active and open communication when working with patients and their families.


Upon completion of this course, the participant will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the art and science of body language.
  2. Present an understanding of the study of semantics.
  3. Assess and interpret body language.
  4. Explain verbal and non-verbal cues.
  5. Identify generational differences in body language.

Chapter 1: Introduction The Background of Body Language
  • Body Language - It's in our DNA
  • The Brains Behind Body Language
  • Expressions, Postures, and Gestures
Chapter 2: The Study of Semantics
  • What is Semantics?
  • Semantics and Survival
  • Self-Assessment and Semantics
Chapter 3: Assessing and Interpreting Body Language
  • Are You Listening to Non-Verbal Cues?
  • Losing Face
  • Remove Bias, Remain Neutral and Respond Appropriately
Chapter 4: Conclusion
  • Case Scenarios
  • References
  • About the Author
Pedagogy course are available for purchase by the individual. Register with us to create your log in and password, click on the course title of interest and then click the BUY NOW button. Or for a complete listing of all our online continuing education courses click here

Posted: 1/20/2020 8:39:35 AM
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