Originally Posted January 3rd, 2012.
When talking to patients it’s important we ask ourselves, “What is my body communicating?” Feelings affect body language, and body language affects feelings. Consciously practicing good body language habits may produce positive feelings. Touch is a powerful form of communication. An appropriate touch can communicate compassion, understanding, encouragement, reassurance or trust.
While working as a clinician I made every opportunity to connect with my patients. Sometimes a soft touch on the hand or arm was just what I needed to build that connection. From my spiritual
point of view, I believe God was touching them through me so my touches always came with a smile.
Many of us have a natural instinct to comfort people when they are hurting. Touch can heal in the most simplest of ways. For example, while I was writing this blog, our Nursing Director came in
my office and gave me a hug and let me know he appreciates me. Guess what he got in return, a hug and a smile. Now we are both smiling. What about listening? Do you listen with your eyes? Someone grieving or emotionally hurting has a need to be understood and heard. It’s important for us to listen with our eyes by making good eye contact. Have you ever tried to talk to someone while they are busy looking at their phone? (I’m guilty…way too much) By not listening with good eye contact, you cause an immediate disconnect.
I have a colleague who has excellent listening skills. Maybe that’s why I like talking with her. Any time I walk in her office, she immediately turns in her chair and faces me, lays her hands on her desk and maintains eye contact. I’ve always admired that about her. She gives me her full attention and I always leave feeling “heard”. It totally takes any frustration away.
Do you have ideas on how to foster a good connection with your patients through thoughtful body language? We’d love to hear them.