Resources >> Browse Articles >> New Nurse

Resources >> Browse Articles >> On the Job


Body Language Every Nurse Should Know

Body Language Every Nurse Should Know

Got any other nonverbal body language tips?

Vlad Zachary | Scrubs Magazine

4. Eye contact

Westerners will make eye contact to show engagement while speaking. But what do the Japanese and Middle Easterners think of eye contact? The Japanese regard direct eye contact as invasive and may find it rude. In the Middle East conversely, intense eye contact may be a way for a person to suss out the other’s intentions and thus one may come in close to see the eyes more clearly.

Always remember that individuals have their own way of using body language that may or may not be in line with their background or culture. Always ask questions to avoid misunderstanding and confusion and always, always show respect for cultural traditions and customs.

3 Ways Body Language Can Improve Your Work Day

1. Posture Matching

The adoption (or imitation) of common bodily postures (identified as posture matching) by people in pairs or groups tends to enhance rapport between/ among the people, because it signals that they are open to and with one another. The adoption of non-congruent postures tends to indicate attitudinal and perceptual differences or relationship distance.

2. Leaning forward

When people lean forward toward each other, it’s a sign of high comfort and agreement. If a nurse initiates this, it’s likely that the family members or coworkers will feel a little more at ease, and will respond in a more positive and cooperative manner.

3. Head Nodding

Head nodding while listening to patients and family members affords positive reinforcement. When a listening nurse nods when a patient or family speaks it shows they are following along and ‘with you.’

Typically one can’t fake body language as well as one can fake written or spoken language. Reading nonverbal signals and paying attention to your own nonverbal cues can often be critical for a nurse’s success and effectiveness.

Find out more about this topic in the Spring 2010 print edition of Scrubs Magazine, which can be found at uniform retail stores nationwide or purchased online. Go to for a peek inside and to find out where you can get your copy!

Dealing with patients is tough. Get tips on how to handle difficult patients by joining the discussion in the NursingLink forum!

More on

In Career: Top 10 Qualities of a Great Nurse
In Advice: 10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Bedside Manner
In Career: How Do I Deal With a Non-English Speaking Patient?

Related Reads:

NursingLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use NursingLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.