Non-verbal communication in a hospital is one of the best tellers of how a patient or caregiver is feeling.

This may come as a surprise to you. After all, how can you tell how a patient is feeling without talking to them? How can a patient read you or assume something about the level of your care if you’re not communicating verbally?

Well, it all comes down to the body.

When it Comes to Non-Verbal Communication, Your Body Never Lies

Non-verbal communication is key. Why? Because the body never lies.

That is the absolute key to non-verbal communication.

Remember: words make up 7 % of communication. Tone makes up 38 % and non-verbal cues make up 55 % of communication.

So how do we communicate other than the spoken word? We do this through:

  • Eye contact

  • Body language

  • Facial expressions

  • Smile

  • Clothing

  • Empathy

  • Non-verbal sounds

  • Appearance

  • Hair

  • Personal

  • Laughter

  • Tone of voice

  • Compassion

  • Attitude

The Importance of Understanding Non-Verbal Communication Cues

It is essential to both understand and educate yourself on non-verbal cues. These cues can offer all sorts of opportunities to connect and create a respectful relationship with hospital patients. Some of these cues include gestures, breath patterns, flushed faces, and dilated pupils

These cues all tell a story to a healthcare professional. They offer opportunities for us to understand how a patient is feeling.

Another crucially important non-verbal cue that you should always have on your mind is your touch. Do you have a caring touch?

A caring touch both communicates and reinforces caring feelings. A caring touch can include placing a hand over a patient's hand or gently placing an arm around a patient's shoulder.

Tactile contact also varies considerably among individuals and families. This is why it is important to be sensitive to differences in attitudes and cultural practices. You may notice that some families are touchy-feely while others aren't. These differences should govern how we communicate with our patients.

The Benefits of Non-Verbal Communication

As an essential element of patient care, non-verbal communication has many different benefits to both patients and healthcare providers. Some of these include:

  • Helps you become more aware when having conversations with patients

  • Increases intimacy

  • Improves empathy

  • Improves compassion

It All Starts With a Smile

Never underestimate the importance of a smile.

There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it.

Remember: Patients are always looking at us. They are watching and reading every breath and step we take. They are watching our body language, our non-verbal cues, the way we present ourselves, and everything in between.

Our ‘Do it’ Recommendations

1. Remember that your patients are always watching and reading you from the moment you enter the room.

2. Be sure to read your patients.

3. Give information to patients in terms and language they can understand.

Now let's go spread Kindness Care, Everywhere!

Everyone’s a Caregiver: Providing Education for Healthcare Workers

Everyone's a Caregiver provides education to healthcare workers to better improve their patient's overall experience. We understand the time constraints placed in today's workplace and have customized microlearning videos that can help you gain the skills you need to be a better, more positive healthcare worker. Contact us today to see how we can help, or click here to learn more.

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