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When we think about the data we collect when we listen, usually the first thing that comes to mind is the words that we hear. While this is of course essential, we are all familiar with the expression ‘Actions speak louder than words’. In the process of fully understanding the communications of another human being, it is well established that we privilege non-verbal messages over verbal. So, for this first issue on attending, it made sense to start with a discussion about attending to our clients’ non-verbal messages.

What are Non-Verbal Messages?

Often referred to broadly as ‘Body Language’, non-verbal messages may be considered in discernible parts. Egan in ‘The Skilled Helper’ defines these parts as:

Bodily Behaviour – posture, movement and gestures
Facial Expressions – self explanatory!
Vocal Behaviour – tone of voice, speed of speaking, pausing, volume of speech
Physiological Responses – often autonomic such as flushing, sweating or quickening of breath
Physical Characteristics – including appearance and body size (need to be used cautiously!)

To find out more about the usefulness of non-verbal messages in eating behaviour counselling and what working with these messages may sound like – read on!

Read Issue 8

#active listening #non-verbal messages #reflecting #responding