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6.1c Describe why it is important to observe and be receptive to an individual’s reactions when communicating with them

Communication is not only verbal, a lot of communication is also non-verbal. For example, body language, facial expressions, position and gestures are all examples of non-verbal communication. It is important to be receptive to non-verbal communication such as an individual’s reactions to communicate effectively.

For example, when you ask whether an individual is in pain, they may say “No”, but a wrinkled brow or uncomfortable facial expression may tell you otherwise. By being observant, you can tell when an individual is becoming confused, angry, stressed or anxious without them directly telling you. This will then allow you to take action to help stop this happening and help them express their feelings better.

Upon noticing an individual’s reactions, you should ask yourself several questions:

  • Do I need to change the type of communication I am using to help the individual understand?
  • Do I need to be aware of how the conversation is affecting them?
  • Is there something that the individual is not communicating to me that may help?

By recognising these unspoken messages, you can develop supportive relationships with individuals and help build up trust, so you should make an attempt to be observant and receptive to an individual’s reactions.