What Does Your Body Language Say to Patients?

Are you familiar with the expression, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it?” This is particularly true when it comes to body language. At the Institute of Podiatric Excellence and Development (IPED), one of our goals is helping all podiatric professionals provide the best experience possible for their patients. The fact is that something as simple as a smile or the position of your body when speaking to a patient can create an impression in seconds that can influence that person’s perception of your practice and the care he or she receives. Be aware of nonverbal ways that you and your staff are communicating with patients and the messages being sent.
Eye Contact—the visual sense is dominant in the majority of people. Making eye contact says that you’re listening to what the other person is saying. In this day of electronic records, make sure that you’re not staring at your screen more than your patient is.
Facial Expressions—a grimace, a smile, raised eyebrows, a wrinkled nose—all of these covey an emotion or impression without uttering a word.
Body Position and Posture—standing above your patient conveys a sense of superiority, sitting lower than they are may instill a lack of confidence. Sitting at the patient’s level is best for gaining trust and showing compassion—plus it makes eye contact easier!
Touch—appropriate touch can be comforting and assuring. A firm handshake or gentle hand on the shoulder connects people in a way that words can’t.
Space—there are unwritten rules about personal space. Stand too close and you’ll make a person uncomfortable or pressured. Be cognizant of this, especially when going over instructions for treatment.
Paying closer attention to the way that your patients respond and perceive what you and your staff are saying with body language can significantly improve patient relations. A receptionist who looks a patient in the eye and smiles as they check them in will create a totally different impression than one who speaks with her back to the patient while juggling three other tasks. One of the many benefits of membership in IPED is access to new skills to improve your practice. To learn more, contact us by calling: 978-296-7634.

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