Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Conversations In Care - Chapter 2: How Effective Is Your Nonverbal Communication?

Conversations In Care - Chapter 2: How Effective Is Your Nonverbal Communication?: "Introduction
In clinical oncology, the ability to communicate effectively with patients and their loved ones is not an optional skill.1 As Chapter 1 of this Web-book explains, 'To understand the true value of communication is to know that how you say something can be as important as what you say.' This point not only captures the tone of voice and manner in which words are spoken, but it also reflects nonverbal communication, or body language.
In fact, as much of 93% of communication includes nonverbal behaviors (including tone of voice).2 The more someone looks for an emotional reaction from the person with whom they are interacting, the more tone of voice, sighs, and body language will be important.3 Unspoken messages may be projected by both you and your patients through a variety of nonverbal communication cues, including hand, head, and leg movement, overall posture, touch, gestures, smiles and frowns, gaze, pauses, voice tone, and breathing patterns.4
You may have the ability to deliver a compelling, empathic phrase, but the words will be wasted if you stare at a computer screen while you talk. Words are important, but they are not the only way in which messages are conveyed. Nonverbal behavior can complement and reinforce the words that are spoken, or contradict and parody the intended message. For example, by making eye contact and facing the person with whom you are interacting, the intent of your spoken words can be confirmed and enhanced by your corresponding body language.
Why should you worry about body language? Because your patients' impressions of you are important, and you do not want to run the risk of being misunderstood.
Optimize the outcome for you and your patients. Find value in each of your patients"

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