Non-Verbal Communication in Nursing

Non-Verbal Communication in Nursing

Non-verbal communication is basically an act of conveying a thought, feeling, idea through physical posture, gestures and facial expressions. Like verbal communication, non-verbal communication is equally important in nursing for delivering patient-centred care.

Non-Verbal Communication in Nursing

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If you are a nursing student then you should have effective non- verbal communication skills also.  Therefore, professors for helping students in developing non-verbal communication skill provide them with assignments. In case you have any issue in writing an essay on non-verbal communication in nursing then you can take essay writing help from us.

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Non-verbal communication refers to as body language. It says a lot about our interest and engagement in the communication we are having. Non-verbal communication can also be defined as a variety of communicative behaviour which does not carry linguistic content.

In non-verbal communication cues or body, movement is used for conveying the meaning. Non-verbal communication includes giving and receiving wordless signals.

Non-verbal communication generally takes place when a person is in quiet places where no voice is allowed. In relation to nursing, non-verbal communication is generally used when a person does not have the ability to listen.

A person’s body language, facial expressions, gestures, touch, eye contact and a person’s posture and are all means of communicating non-verbally. Touch is an effective form of non-verbal communication and a feeling that occur automatically.

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Elements of non-verbal communication in nursing

The 4 important elements of communication which you need to consider when communicating with patients or with your colleagues are:

Body posture

Nurses can communicate better non-verbally when they bring face at a level as another person. At the time of communicating non-verbally, nurses need to be relaxed and they should not be impatient. Therefore, it is very much crucial for nurses to adopt an open stance, demonstrating the person they want to be there.

Eye contact

You should not simply stare at the person but should maintain proper eye contact with them. At the time of communication, nurses should keep in mind that making eye contact can be a sign of rudeness for people belonging to different cultural background. This element of non-verbal communication mainly focuses on the significance of knowing about a person we are caring for and learning how to approach them in the right manner.

Facial expression

The facial expression of the person shows what they are thinking about. We may not even realize we are rolling our eyes, yawning, none of which will encourage patients to keep talking to us. At the time of communicating, it is very much essential for the nurse to be aware of their own facial expressions.


It is considered to be as very much powerful means of communication. By lightly touching a person’s hand you can show that you have a concern about the issue they are facing. But along with eye contact, touch has to be proper. But before touching anyone for showing your concern you should consider cultural issues. It is also very much important for a nurse to take permission from the patient before touching them.

Importance of non-verbal communication in nursing

Non-verbal communication is important as it control conversation flow. It also provides vital cues that signal the beginning and end of the conversation. Non- verbal communication also has a great influence on the relationship. It is the primary way through which we demonstrate our emotions, establish social bonds and engage in relationship maintenance.

Non-verbal communication provides ease in influencing other people. Such type of communication can be utilized for ascertaining dominance.

The potential to understand and utilize non-verbal communication is a powerful tool which can assist health care professionals in connecting with patients in a positive manner. It will also enable them to develop mutual understanding and respect. Nurses need to have situational awareness of non-verbal communication. It is the tactics which will enable nurses to develop an understanding of potentially problematic body language and consciously change it.

For instance, there are few circumstances which may trigger negative non-verbal reactions. It is the preparation and awareness that will assist nurses in controlling as well as directing non-verbal behaviours.

Non-verbal communication has great significance in nursing; as it can add interest to your presentation when yield properly.

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The effect of non-verbal communication

Five main influences which non-verbal communication can have:

  • Repetition: it repeats and strengthens the message which you are making verbally.
  • Contradiction: Non-verbal communication can contradict the message which the individual is trying to convey.
  • Substitution: It could easily substitute your verbal message. For instance, your facial message often conveys a far more vivid message than words ever can.
  • Complementing: Non-verbal communication complements verbal message. It can enable you to have a significant influence on the message receiver.
  • Accenting: It underlines a verbal message. In simple words, non-verbal communication demonstrates the importance of your message.

Role of non-verbal communication in therapy

Since nonverbal communication is one’s capability to navigate social situations and interact with others and the environment. Non -verbal communication can be a powerful source of insight in therapy.

A counsellor or nurse, who is familiar to a person’s nonverbal expressions, while also taking in the words actually spoken by the person, might be more easily able to recognize when a person’s body language and speech do not match. Or the counsellor may learn more from a person’s gestures than from the words being spoken. These kinds of cues may assist the therapist and the person in therapy identifies and access deeper emotional problem for which the person may not be consciously aware.

Drawing attention to a person’s nonverbal forms of communication and pointing out possible contradictions between the person’s expressed words and what is conveyed without words can also help a person increase awareness of how nonverbal communication is used in personal interactions.

Somatic experiencing is a type of therapy which medical professional uses for treating the influence of trauma.  It is a therapy when doctors mainly concentrate on body language and physical responses of the person in treatment. The therapists or nurses read non-verbal cues for assessing a personal reaction.

In body-mind psychotherapy, the therapist measures an individual’s breath, sounds, and movements for finding counterproductive behaviours. It assists an individual in developing new ones which have a positive influence.

Techniques to improve non-verbal communication

Developing an understanding of non-verbal communication is very much essential for preventing negative reactions. As a nurse, you have important conversations regularly, and your body language nonverbal communication contributes to those conversations whether you realize it or not. When you’re speaking to a patient or a co-worker, its important to pay attention to the nonverbal signals you’re sending.

The different strategies which nurses can adopt for enhancing non-verbal communication are:

  • Smile and maintain proper eye contact.
  • Be aware of your body language
  • Demonstrate interest in listening to information shared by patients. While communicating non-verbally with person or patient, you should not gaze at the clock, avoid yawning etc. These are few non- verbal signs which may represent that you are in a hurry or you are bored.
  • Sit when you can and lean forward to show that you’re engaged. Don’t stand looking down on the patient in a paternalistic stance.
  • Move your head to show you are listening.
  • Avoid a judgmental attitude, and influence the patient to share relevant and complete information.
  • Maintaining an awareness of one’s emotions and those of others is also important in recognizing and understanding another person’s nonverbal cues.
  • If you intend to become a better communicator, then it is very much essential for you to concentrate more on body language and also on non-verbal cues of others

For gaining knowledge about more communication techniques in nursing, you can access healthcare assignment help.


It has been concluded from the above that non-verbal communication can be more powerful than words. As a nurse, observing patients body language could be as vital looking for clinical symptoms.

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