How to Read Your Patient’s Body Language

A patient may communicate with you without saying a word. If you understand how to read a patient’s body language, you’re well-equipped to help him or her like never before.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to reading a patient’s body language. However, there are several tried-and-true techniques that can help you pick up on a patient’s nonverbal cues. These include:


1. Make Good Eye Contact

Look directly into a patient’s eyes during face-to-face communications. If a patient does not make direct eye contact, it may be a sign that he or she is bored or not interested in your conversation.

In addition, look at a patient’s pupils. When a patient is focused on something he or she likes, their pupils are likely to dilate.

It is important to note if a patient frequently blinks, too. If a patient blinks a lot, he or she may be stressed. Or, this may be an indication that the patient is lying.


2. Check Out the Patient’s Facial Expression

Examine a patient’s facial expression as you converse with him or her. For example, a patient may smile, but this expression may be fake. To distinguish a genuine smile from a fake one, look at the patient’s entire face. If the patient’s smile extends from ear to ear, it’s genuine. Or, if the patient only uses their mouth to smile, it’s likely fake.

Keep an eye on a patient’s lips as well. If a patient’s lips are tight and pursed, he or she may be worried. On the other hand, a patient who keeps their lips and mouth relaxed probably feels good about their conversation with you.


3. Consider the Distance Between You and Your Patient

Distance can speak volumes about how a conversation between you and a patient is going. If a patient takes a step back or makes other moves to keep their distance, he or she may feel disengaged from your conversation. Comparatively, if a patient sits or stands close to you, it may be an indication that your conversation is going well.


Improve Your Nonverbal Communication Skills to Read a Patient’s Body Language

Nonverbal communication plays a key role in the success of a healthcare professional. The best healthcare professionals can read a patient’s body language and respond appropriately. They also are unafraid to be open and honest with a patient. If a healthcare professional has concerns based on a patient’s nonverbal cues, he or she will share them with this individual

You can build your nonverbal communication over time. The more you focus on a patient’s body language, the better you’ll become at reading it. From here, you’ll be able to provide patients with unparalleled care and support.


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