By Joyce Lishman (auth.)
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Smiling is an important means of conveying warmth or immediacy. 99). Smiling is also a social reinforcer, conveying acceptance or approval of what it follows. So when we smile to convey warmth and a desire to relate to a client, we also have to be aware that we are rewarding and approving our client's actions and words. Touch is a means of conveying warmth, and of course, empathy. It means being comfortable oneself with physical closeness, and then being aware of what that means to the client. So, again, using touch is complex.
If I stand or sit too far away he may see me as cold and unfriendly. Leaning slightly towards your client conveys immediacy: it indicates attentiveness, and lets the client know you are with him or her. Sitting in a relaxed open position conveys immediacy, but being too relaxed, laid back or slouched may convey disinterest, boredom or lack of respect. Building and Maintaining Client-Worker Relationships 49 Eye contact is a component of immediacy or warmth, although, as was discussed in Chapter 3, it is also part of regulating interaction and conversation.
Responsiveness also appears to be conveyed by body movement such as nodding one's head, gesticulating, moving one's arms and feet and leaning forward (Mehrabian and Williams, 1969). Again it is difficult to make rules. g. fiddling, rubbing oneself and frequently shifting position, can be distracting and convey a lack of attention (Reith, 1975). In a study of interviewing behaviour (Lishman, 1985) the level of non-verbal activity by social workers was higher than anticipated and did not appear distracting to clients.