How you communicate with your patients/clients is important. Start by thinking about the signals that you give out. Even as you approach the person and before you have said any words your body language will be speaking volumes.

Smile and look approachable

Show that you are interested in the person and accepting of their experience. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't challenge their beliefs or attitudes towards back pain but it does mean that you don't judge the person for believing the things that they do.

We can best demonstrate that we are non-judgmental and empathic by having open body language:

  • arms uncrossed

  • no barriers between eg holding paperwork

  • no distractions eg writing notes whilst we listen-good eye contact

  • good distance eg not too close or too far away


Remember the acronym PROSE when thinking about your communication skills:

Permission: Ask permission to have a conversation about back pain. Ask permission to give advice /key messages. It's not only polite but an effective way of engaging the person.

If you say " Is it OK if I just tell you a few facts about back pain?" and the person says "Yes", then they will probably be more accepting of the information that you give, rather than if you just gave it "cold".

Reflect back what you have heard to demonstrate your understanding and your empathy. Remember: Reflect back.....Check back

"Sounds like you are concerned about your back pain? is that right?"

Open: Open body language and open questions too. "What are your thoughts about this?"

Summarise briefly what you have discussed

Empathy: See the world through their eyes for a moment. This will help you to be non-judgmental and understanding of where they are coming from.

Reflect their words back to show that you have heard and understood " I heard you say that you think..." "so what you are saying that right?"

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