The importance of face-to-face communication in and out of hospital

With Jeremy Hunt‘s refusal to call for a ban on full-face veils in hospital, we are reminded of the significance of face-to-face communication, in its truest sense.

I have no doubt that the debate over the wearing of the niqab in courts, colleges and other public places will raise issues of freedom and discrimination, but this blog isn’t a suitable forum for the discussion of such contentious matters.  Instead, let’s consider the benefits of being able to communicate without barriers.

Using email and social media is great for that instant messaging, but nothing quite beats a face-to-face meeting to clarify and enlighten.  With facial expressions communicating the speaker’s attitude, emotions and intentions, whatever the words used, we need to read the face to gain maximum understanding.

Non-verbal clues are just as important as the words spoken.  In a trial-by-jury in England and Wales, the facial expressions of a witness or defendant are part of the evidence in the case, thus the issue surrounding the niqab.

Communicating in person, being able to see someone’s face and interpret their thoughts and feelings, helps us to experience their message.  We can see how far their actions align with their words, thus building relationships and enhancing credibility and trust.

The human face is capable of more than 10,000 different expressions.  Remove the ability to see these, either through technology or physical barriers, and much can be lost in the transmission of the message.  ‘I didn’t know that!’

In a conversation or meeting, it is essential that people understand each other’s attitude and feelings, and only face-to-face communication, ideally unhindered, can provide that vital component.

If you have something important to communicate, book that meeting room or restaurant table and say it properly.

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