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Nonverbal Communication

What might you see?

  • Having a hard time understanding common nonverbal cues (for example, facial expressions, hand gestures, etc.)
  • Standing too close or too far from people in a conversation
  • Body language that doesn’t “match” what is being said
  • Facial expressions that don’t “match” what is being said
  • Poor eye contact with the person talking or listening
  • Staring at others during conversation

How can you help?

  • Politely ask the service member or veteran to stand closer or further away during a conversation.
  • Explain that the behavior is making you feel uncomfortable.
  • Tell the service member or veteran you are confused by the difference in body language and spoken message. Briefly explain what you saw and heard.
  • Ask them to stop any distracting motions.
  • Work with the healthcare team to practice appropriate behavior in therapy and at home. This will help decrease behavior that causes problems.
  • Talk to the service member or veteran about how to act in certain situations before those situations occur.
  • Give feedback on the right amount of eye contact to keep with another person.
  • Decide on a signal to let the service member or veteran know if their nonverbal communication is inappropriate.
  • Praise all improvements in verbal and nonverbal communication skills.