Throughout history, mentalists and philosophers have known that the body has a way of expressing our thoughts. When we feel uncomfortable/nervous/scared – our body responds by displaying associated signs and symptoms.
We try and fight the corresponding body response(s) to our innate feelings or emotional states, but such biological sentiments are inevitable.
Individuals like Dr. Milton Erickson have been studying the biological response to natural and/or induced human emotions. Their research has led to the development of an understanding of human body language and the way such understanding can be used to influence corresponding response to premonitions/inhibitions.
By skillful analyses of such responses, we can develop a better understanding of our patients’ collective emotional/behavioral states. This- in turn- will allow us to build a stronger rapport- resulting in an overall better patient care and/or outcomes.
Let’s start learning about this…!
Table of Contents
Let us start warming up by trying to understand some basic concepts.
The way we portray/present ourselves can have a direct and/or profound impact on what others think of us. We want patients to feel comfortable with us and our MR imaging services/care. For that reason, we need to exude confidence. This is extremely important when attempting to meet a patient’s level of perceived care.
One trick in helping patients develop a connection with us- is through a technique known as- MIRRORING!
Mirroring requires us to perform the same or similar movements as someone we are engaging with. This sounds easy – but can be challenging to perform consciously – During an inaccurate attempt at mirroring – imaging caregivers are often at risk of losing – otherwise established – rapport…!
It is important to perform mirroring within a time frame of just a few seconds. Following a successful attempt at mirroring – we will be able to build prolonged rapport with our patients – even going so far as to positively influence their otherwise anxious/confused states of mind..!!!
Body Language Accounts For 55% Of Communication
They say that – “Actions speak louder than Words”– And in the words of Dr. Seuss – this is truer than true..!
Our body language sends messages to our patients as well as our coworkers/staff. On that note – we need to focus our attention towards – not only the messages our body sends to the patients – but also those directed towards – colleagues/staff members/ancillary health personnel.
What is a Genuine Smile vs. a Fake Smile?
A genuine smile is something that is portrayed/ displayed through both our eyes and our mouths. All smiles, in and of itself, require that we flex the muscles around our mouth. The difference – however – is that – in genuine smiles – we ALSO – involve the Orbicularis oculi or the muscles around our eyes. When we voluntarily – and – in a genuine manner – smile – we contract the Orbicularis oculi – pulling in the skin next to our eyes…!
By contrast – a fake smile – is a – forced smile -When smiling – in a forced/fake manner – we only use the risorii or facial/cheek muscles – pulling our mouth into the smiling shape. At this point, our eye muscles do NOT contract…!!
It is only by displaying a genuine smile – are we – perceived as portraying – Genuine Care…!!!
What are your Feet doing?
The way our feet move also indicate a lot about our mental/emotional states…! Typically, we point our feet in the direction we want to go. If we are in a rush, we may be unconsciously pointing our feet towards the exit and/or the direction opposite to the patient(s). Additionally; if we are nervous or impatient, we often tend to shift our weight and/or or tap our toes..!!
Make sure that you pay attention to – YOU!
This is essential as YOU may be subconsciously sending unnecessary messages to your patient(s) through your overall body language….!!!
This video is focused on- “How our Feet Communicate”
Here is a video on- “Gestures and Body Language”:
Here is a TED talk on – “Body Language”
This video describes – “The Most Common Body Language”
Listen to this TED talk on – “Vocal Branding”
This video delves deeper into – “Tonality”
Tonality or How We Say Things Account For 38% of Communication
Our voice is an instrument. You may have met people that have had very unpleasant voices. It can be difficult to communicate with such individuals – thereby raising obstacles in patient – caregiver -rapport – building – efforts…!
You may have met individuals who are often loud during verbal communications. A loud voice often comes across as intimidating and/or is perceived as aggression. On the other hand, unusually quiet tones can be misperceived and/or misinterpreted as insecurity.
Additionally; we can be sending the wrong message(s), through verbal pauses and/or pausing in our speech. This can lead to miscommunication as we attempt to screen and/or direct imaging care to our patients. Our brains attempt to hear things that we say in a certain way. When our verbal presentation/speech does not go by as planned, we tend to get confused or feel awkward.
Mirroring – as discussed above- can be used to communicate with our patients in an appropriate manner. Matching up to and/or keeping pace with the patients’ rate of speech can help us build a stronger rapport with them. This – in turn – helps us calm them down as we proceed to the actual MR imaging exam(s)….!!
In sum, pay thorough attention to your patient’s communication styles and you can build rapport faster…!!!
What We Say Accounts for 7% of Communication
You may have worked with someone – who could – without any regard for the patient and/or institutional standards of patient care – say something insulting and/or offensive to the patient – UNINTENTIONALLY – of course…! This is due to lack of awareness – on their part – with regards to proper communication during patient care.
Sometimes, listening is more important than speaking. This is especially true in the healthcare industry. Our patients come to us to obtain answers on something that they are suffering from and/or may be too insecure, uncomfortable, or scared to talk about. This can cause what we say to become – “white noise” – to our patient(s).
Effective communication is – thus – of vital importance. Our only priorities – as Imaging Professionals – should be – listening to/addressing our patient’s needs and providing appropriate information that they need to know prior to their respective imaging exam(s).
This is one of the only forms of communication that is considered – genuine, confident, and efficient…!!!