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Leadership Club Purpose

The purpose of our Leadership Club is to help you become more successful in your medical career. At the same time, we encourage you to use your leadership skills to gently change the culture of smoking in China to help people live longer, happier lives.

As a doctor or health care worker, you have a wonderful opportunity to influence many people. I hope this article will increase your ability to build relationships and gain the trust of those around you.

Body Language

Body language is an important part of communication. It is the way you move and what you do with your eyes, face, body and hands. Body language gives powerful non-verbal messages to those who are watching and listening to you.

Body language is at work before people speak. Non-verbal messages are seen by our unconscious minds. They give us many different feelings about the people we see:

  • I like her and feel connected to her.
  • I do not like him and think he is lying.

Incredible Impact

Body language may be the most important part of your communication. Experts have found that the words we say are much less significant than how we say them and how we act.

Click here to see a funny movie that shows how powerful actions alone can be. A skilled person can use body language to tell a story with no spoken words.

Researchers tell us that communication is:

  • 55% non-verbal body language
  • 38% tone of voice
  • 7% the words you say

Most health care workers do not understand the incredible impact and importance of body language. It is not taught in medical school. But if you master this art, you will be a better doctor or health care worker—and a more successful leader.

My Doctor

Six years ago I was diagnosed with a type of skin cancer. Luckily, it was discovered at an early stage so treatment was minor surgery. But now my specialist skin doctor examines me once every year. In fact, I saw her this week.

Every time I go to her clinic, she walks into the exam room and greets me with a big smile. She stands straight, looks me in the eyes and shakes my hand with a firm grip. She always asks how I am doing and about my wife and two daughters. By being open and kind in her actions and words, she makes me feel like a friend.

Build Trust

When my doctor makes recommendations for my health care, I trust her. She consistently uses good body language and verbal communication to gain my faith in her skill.

You can do the same with people you meet and treat. Your posture, your walk, your movements while you talk and your facial expressions all add to the words you speak.

Use Your Eyes

Eye contact is one of the most powerful body language skills. As simple as it is, many doctors do not do it. When speaking with patients, they look at their chart and write instead of looking at them. But no eye contact means no connection. The doctor has lost a good opportunity to build trust.

A better approach is for doctors and medical workers to look at patients and listen as they talk. When your patient finishes speaking, tell them you are going to write notes about what they said.

Show Interest

When your patient is speaking, lean forward and use your body to show you are listening and interested in what they are saying. Nod your head to let them know you are hearing and understanding.

Try to face patients with your entire body. Often medical workers are doing several things while talking to patients—writing in the chart or setting up equipment. But having your body turned toward patients is another way of showing that you are focused on them.

Slow Down

A big problem is that doctors often rush into an examination room, look at the patient’s chart and begin their examination with very little communication. They are trying to hurry and do not think of smiling.

The message patients get from the doctor’s body language is that he is in a hurry, they are taking up time, and there is something more important he needs to do. Doctors may not intend to send this message, but it is often what comes through.

Avoid Problems

Health care workers might avoid sending poor body language messages by putting themselves in their patient’s shoes. Before entering the examination room, stop and ask yourself a simple question: How would I feel if I was this patient?

  • What will they see in my body language?
  • Will I make them feel comfortable?
  • Will they think I am in a hurry?
  • How will my words sound?
  • Will our time together increase their trust in me?

Improve Outcomes

When people feel good about their doctor, they are more likely to accept health problems, understand treatment options, follow medical instructions and change their behavior. Good use of body language can help you lead patients to improving their health and achieving better medical outcomes.

Smoking Success

As doctors and medical workers, we can use the power of body language to greatly improve our communication. Once we have won their confidence and gained their trust, we will be more successful motivating people to quit smoking and make other lifestyle changes to improve their health. Appropriate use of non-verbal language is a skill that will expand your influence and increase your leadership abilities.

No Choice

We cannot ignore body language or turn it off. For good or for bad, the way you move and what you say with your eyes, face, body and hands is a large and important part of your communication. Think about how you can use your unspoken messages to show people around you that you really care about them.

By Marlin Gimbel
Leadership Club Program Director

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