Approximately 70 % of interpersonal communication is nonverbal
, which means it is conveyed by tone of voice, eye contact, facial expressions, body position, posture, touch, and physical distance.
When nonverbal cues contradict verbal messages, patients are much more likely to believe the nonverbal cues
, which means that nonverbal cues should support verbal communication and should be as clear as possible.
Nonverbal signals that communicate empathy include:
• sitting at eye level with the patient, or slightly lower
• sitting as close to the patient as the relationship dictates
• sitting in a relaxed position
• leaning toward the patient.
Campbell TC, Wood GJ, Knight CF. Communication and the hospice and palliative physician´s role on the interdisciplinary team. Unipac five. 2008 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.