Listening to a patient is important to understanding a patient, but patients also communicate nonverbally. Oftentimes a health care provider will learn more from observing a patient's nonverbal cues than from listening to a patient's verbal communication. Understanding nonverbal communication is especially important for nurses providing care to patients with limited language skills.
Modes of Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication or body language includes physical appearance, physical distance between caregiver and patient, tone of voice, and facial expressions. Understanding nonverbal messages is a valuable care-giving skill because body language is usually a more reliable indicator of a patient's condition than his verbal responses. Utilize nonverbal communication skills by observing the patient's manner of dress, manner of speech and reactions to being touched during examination.
Significance of Facial Expressions
Gestures, nods, smiles, grimaces and frowns are facial expressions that you must interpret when communicating with a patient. The ability to interpret facial expressions leads to a better understanding of your patient's condition.
Use of Space
You must provide treatment and care that often requires close personal contact. Remember that you are invading the patient's personal space as you examine him. Different patients will have different zones of comfort. Determine you patient's personal comfort zone. Be respectful and ensure that the patient is comfortable with any procedures that you will perform. Be especially careful when conducting examinations of individuals with schizophrenia or other psychiatric illnesses. These individuals may become anxious and violent as the nurse invades their comfort zone while examining them.
Other Elements of Nonverbal Communication
The patient can communicate using silence, gestures, eye movement, posture and vocal cues. Vocal cues refer to pauses, loudness and tone of speaking voice, which can indicate a range or emotions from anger to nervousness. The nurse interprets behavior such as fidgeting, clenching fists, avoidance of eye contact or physical contact and responds to the nonverbal message.
Using Body Language
The nurse must explore further if the patient's nonverbal message does not match his verbal message. Verbal and nonverbal messages should match in both the patient and the caregiver. If an individual's body language doesn't match his spoken message, the recipient of the message will be confused.
Caregiver's Body Language
Smiling, leaning forward, eye-gazing and touching are elements of body language that the nurse can use to improve her relationship with the patient. Be aware that your body language communicates messages to your patient and ensure that you are respectful and considerate in speech and movement. Use your body language to communicate effectively with the patient and her family.
- Photo Credit Doctor examines the patient image by Ella from Fotolia.com not cool gesture image by Artsem Martysiuk from Fotolia.com angry image by Mitarart from Fotolia.com nursing duties image by Pix by Marti from Fotolia.com hand group3 image by Andrey Kiselev from Fotolia.com little talk image by Edyta Anna Grabowska from Fotolia.com
Types of Communication in the Care Setting
Non-verbal communication in the health care setting ... not crossing the arms and leaning in when talking to a patient are non-verbal...
Why Would Someone Stop Talking to You for No Reason?
Life Skills Gadget Guide. eHow; Relationships & Family; ... How do I Tell If Someone Is Lying by Non-Verbal Communications? How to...
Nontherapeutic Communication Techniques in Nursing
Nursing & Verbal Communication. In the career of nursing, ... Non-Verbal Communication Techniques. Non-verbal communication is more important than you might think.
Interpersonal Communication in Nursing: Theory & Practice
Understanding interpersonal communication theory and practice is particularly important for nurses in their verbal and nonverbal interactions. The choice of words ...
The Importance of Nonverbal Communication
Nursing & Nonverbal Communication. Listening to a patient is important to understanding a patient, ... in essence, the importance of non-verbal communication.
Importance of Oral Communication in Business English
Internal oral communication can be defined as the language and verbal ... Importance of Communication Skills in Nursing. ... Written & Nonverbal...
Importance of Communication Skills in Nursing
Both verbal and nonverbal communication skills aid nurses in their work. A soothing voice while answering questions and a friendly smile both...
Therapeutic Communication Techniques for Nursing
Therapeutic communication begins with the nurse showing ... Effective verbal and nonverbal skills ... Interpersonal Communication in Nursing: Theory & Practice;
Importance of Verbal Communication
Importance of Non Verbal Communication in Business. ... What Is Verbal Communication in the Nursing Line of Work? How to Listen to...
What Are Interpersonal Skills in Nursing?
How do I Conduct an Independent Non-Verbal Learning Disability Assessment? ... What is Effective Communication in Nursing?