In his article titled “Parent-staff Communication in a Children’s Unit”, Mac Keith (335) looked at the importance of non-verbal communication. To do so, he starts by defining what non-verbal communication is where he asserts that it is the unspoken way of communication which accompanies the spoken communication. He observes that since communication does not occur through vacuum, there are some acts in the media of communication which tend to alter the message being transmitted. These include gestures, facial expressions, variations in pitch and tone of voice as well as body postures.
He goes on to describe that this kind of communication is very important in medical care as it affects the efficiency and effectiveness of the doctor-patient communication (Mac Keith, 335). To illustrate this, he gives tow examples of how this non-verbal communication can affect the doctor-patient communication. First of all, he observes that the furniture in the doctor’s room can be an item of non-verbal communication. For instance, he describes a situation where a patient had to walk over a long shiny floor to reach the doctor’s desk. This makes it appear to be quite out of the ordinary and the individual feels uneasy. The impression created by the situation also affects how effective this communication becomes. For instance, a patient feeling that he is being used as an item of learning or just another statistic might be impassive and fail to communicate effectively with the doctor.
Another main factor that affects the effectiveness of the communication between a doctor and a patient is the eye contact. To illustrate that his is important in human relations, Mac Keith (336) observes that human beings start giving meaning to eye contact at infancy during breastfeeding. The normal children tend to look straight into their nurse’s faces as they get the milk, and the mothers also tend to look at the children. This creates a kind of bonding and understanding between the two. This persists to adulthood. To illustrate this, Mac Keith (336) gives the example of a woman who was communicating to a doctor. However, the doctor did not do much to bring eye contact with the patient but only concentrated on his notes. At the end of the day, the patient felt that the communication was not effective and went away disoriented. This implies that eye contact is quite essential for effective human communication.
Looking at Mac Keith’s argument, it is very consistent and accurate with regard to non-verbal communication. It I generally accepted that non-verbal communication is an integral part of communication. It makes the message to be transmitted from the sender to the receiver in a more comprehensive manner. It is for this reason that the famous cliché that actions speak louder than words is true. People tend to pay more attention and lay importance to how the message is delivered rather than the message itself. The manner of delivery is, as such, essential to the effective delivery of the message.
Mac Keith also pays a lot of attention to eye contact in communication. This is also justified. It is well known that eye contact is one of the most notable forms of non-verbal communication as it indicates the willingness of the communicating parties to pay attention and dedicate time to the conversation. Generally, it can be argued that McKeith captured the essence of non-verbal communication and its importance in daily communication.
Mac Keith, Ronald. “Parent-Staff Communication in a Children’s Unit.” Proc. Roy.Soc. Med., 65. April 1972, Pp. 335-336. (Attached)