#4: Be Observant
Keeping an eye on the patient’s body language will allow you to get the most out of every conversation and consultation. You can’t help someone if you’re not paying attention to them.
Be aware of how the patient is presenting themselves. If they are speaking very quietly, looking at the floor or fiddling with their phone or bag, they are likely to be asking you about a topic they find hard to talk about.
By physically matching the patient’s body language, by speaking quietly or bobbing down to their level, you can make them feel happier with the situation and slowly boost their confidence. For example, if someone is speaking very quickly because they are nervous you too can speak quickly and gradually slow down your voice to help them calm down. The same goes for someone speaking very loudly, or someone not wanting to come too close.
#5: Strike the Right Pose
It is just as important to be aware of your own body language. Avoid defensive poses such as crossing your arms, make eye contact and try not to fiddle or fidget with, say, your pen. Being relaxed and confident in your body language will help the patient feel more relaxed and confident. Be careful not to invade their personal space. When speaking to the patient make eye contact. Nod and be interested in what they are telling you.
#6: Don’t Judge
We all make snap judgments about people — it is human nature. But it is important to be aware of this to make sure that it does not show in your body language, tone of voice or, most importantly, in your advice.
Try to remember you may not know everything about the patient’s circumstances. You may be quick to cast aspersions on the 15-year-old asking for emergency contraception, but how would you feel about that teenager if you knew she was being abused?
It is your job to be professional, make the patient feel they can talk to you freely, and provide the right advice and information for them. Remember, even if they are being arrogant or cocky it may have taken a lot of courage to come to you for help.