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Body Language Every Nurse Should Know

Body Language Every Nurse Should Know

Got any other nonverbal body language tips?

Vlad Zachary | Scrubs Magazine


What is your coworker’s body language telling you? Avoid head games and gain insight into how your fellow nurse is feeling with these 3 tips:

1. Hands interlaced behind head

When a coworker is leaning back with the hands interlaced behind the head, some people feel intimidated. This gesture, quite common in many hospitals and organizations, is typically indicative of comfort and dominance, and should be no reason for concern.

2. Finger pointing

On the negative side, the act of finger pointing is one of the most offensive gestures around the globe. It indicates most likely that your fellow nurse is at the end of their emotional rope. It’s a signal that crisis management techniques might be needed soon.

3. Erratic voice pitch

While a normal, lively conversation is characterized by fluctuation and variance in voice pitch, when a coworker’s speech rate and loudness all of a sudden increase, this could be a signal of nervousness and anxiety. This may be a sign that they need an assist.


Feeling bullied or intimidated by your manager? Find out what these 3 nonverbal cues really mean:

The Nursing Interview Quiz

1. It's interview time! You arrive at your interview:

30 minutes early - you want to show your dedication to the job.
10 minutes early - But you were actually parked and ready to go in 20 minutes ago.
5 minutes late - You don't want to seem too eager.

1. Spread fingertips planted on a table

A significant territorial display of confidence and authority is when a person plants their fingertips spread apart on a table or other surface.

2. Spread-out arms

Arms spread out over a chair also point to feelings of comfort and confidence. These displays, when used or recognized appropriately, greatly enhance communication effectiveness.

3. Arms akimbo

Another widespread territorial behavior used to assert dominance and project an image of authority is known as arms akimbo. This nonverbal behavior involves a person extending both arms out in a V-pattern with the hands placed (thumbs backwards) on the hips. This is an especially common display among military or police officers, and they use it a lot when talking to each other.

For women, this nonverbal technique can have particular utility. It’s an effective way for anyone, especially a woman, to demonstrate that she is standing her ground, confident and unwilling to be bullied. A more inquisitive and less authoritarian variety of this display is when the fingers are pointing forward.

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