Adapted from “Listen to My Story: Communicating with Victims of Crime,” Office of Victims of Crime (NCJ 19565)
Mirror Body Language and Vocal Characteristics
- Maintain eye contact (if culturally appropriate)
- Relaxed, alert posture
- Match the victim’s postural shifts
- Replicate shifts in vocal tonality, tempo, volume, timbre, and intonation
- Match the victim’s gestures and characteristic poses (respectfully)
- Use the phrases that the victim uses
- Lean slightly forward
- Show impatience
- Yawn, sign, act bored or disinterested
- Multi‐task while victim is speaking
- Speak in a kind, measured voice that conveys warmth and interest.
- Assure the victim that she is being heard.
- Paraphrase victim’s statements so he feels validated.
- Ask open‐ended questions.
- Acknowledge victims emotions (e.g. “That must have made you feel…”, “It sounds like you feel…”).
- Respond to content, paraphrasing when appropriate (e.g. “You are really concerned about…”).
- Stay engaged until the victim has finished telling her story.
- Interrupt the victim.
- Tell the victim how he should feel.
- Disagree with the victim.
- Evaluate what the victim is saying.
- Ask questions that convey blame (e.g. “Why didn’t you…?”).
- Be closed minded.
- Jump to conclusions or fill in details.
- Use vocabulary that isn’t understood or is alienating.
- Talk too much.
- Know all the answers.
Approaches to the Elderly Hearing Impaired Person
- Stand or sit directly in front of, and close to, the person.
- Make sure the person is paying attention and looking at your face.
- Address the person by name, pause, and then begin talking.
- Speak distinctly, slowing, and directly to the person.
- Do NOT exaggerate lip movements because this will interfere with lip reading.
- Avoid covering your mouth, or turning your head away.
- Avoid or eliminate any background noise.
- Do not raise the volume of your voice. Rather, try to lower the tone while still speaking in a moderately loud voice.
- Keep all instructions simple and ask for feedback to assess what the person heard.
- Avoid questions that elicit simple yes or no answers.
- Keep sentences short.
- Use body language that is congruent with what you are trying to communicate.
- Demonstrate what you are saying.
- Make sure that only one person talks at a time; arrange for one‐on‐one communication whenever possible.
- Provide adequate lighting so that the person can see your lips; avoid settings in which there is a glare behind or around you.
From: Miller, C. Nursing Care of Older Adults: Theory and Practice, p. 196
Approaches to the Elderly Vision Impaired Person
- Always identify yourself.
- Make sure you have the person’s attention before you speak – call his/her name first.
- Minimize the number of distractions.
- Provide optimum lighting ‐ avoid glare or shadows.
- Try to place things or self in best vision area.
- Speak before handing the person an object.
- Describe the room: state the position of people or objects; use the analogy of a clock.
- Ask if the person would like large print or extra light or time to read a document.
- Provide a magnifying glass or other low vision aid as needed.
From: Ebersole, P. and Hess, P. (1998) Towards Healthy Aging: Human Needs and Nursing Response, p. 424‐6
Source: NAPSA Module 9 Professional Communication: Seeing the World through Other Lens