Ways Nurses Can Improve Their Communication Skills

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Ways Nurses Can Improve Their Communication Skills

The language of healthcare is one that is steeped in jargon and acronyms. It behooves members of the profession to be able to effectively express their thoughts and ideas with clarity. That being said, communication skills are never far from an on-duty nurse’s mind.

Nurses are constantly making quick decisions about patients, delegating tasks, and working with other colleagues, all while choreographing a safe environment for patient care.

There are many ways to improve your nursing communication skills by building on your knowledge base, learning new technology, or just practicing on a daily basis.

Why Is Effective Communication Important for Nurses?

Communication is a critical aspect of all areas of nursing practice and the delivery of care.

Nurses are considered patient educators; however, they must have a firm grasp of their own knowledge base first.

One reason why nurses should improve their communication skills is to improve patient care.

Providing optimal, high-quality care every time means nurses need to be able to communicate with patients and their families effectively in order to meet their needs, understand the situation, gain trust and create a safe environment for everyone involved in the patient’s care.

What Are the Challenges Nurses Face with Communication?

Failure to communicate effectively can have a negative impact on patients. For example, it may lead to errors in medication administration, which could result in harm or even death for the patient.

During your nurse studies, you will learn a lot about how to share information with colleagues, how to communicate as a team, and how to explain complex situations to patients.

Whether you are doing an accelerated bsn online or taking a more traditional route and doing your nursing degree in a hospital setting, learning to communicate properly will be invaluable.

Here are a few tips that you can work on by yourself:

Develop a Clear Voice

Speaking in a clear voice when conversing with patients is a requirement for effective communication.

What does ‘clear’ sound like? It sounds like a voice that communicates confidence, understanding, and approachability, which are characteristics all nurses should strive to portray.

By trying out different voice tones, you can determine what range you prefer to use and then use it consistently throughout the day.

Your voice can have a positive effect on the patients you work with. They will feel less intimidated by your ability to communicate clearly and will more likely open up with you about their feelings about the situation.

Build Rapport with Patients and Families

Rapport is a warm, friendly, and trusting connection between two people or groups.

Nurses like to build rapport with patients and families, which is helpful for all involved parties.

It can also help you gain a better understanding of the patient’s thoughts and how they feel about the situation at hand.

To develop rapport as a nurse, start by making eye contact and smiling at patients. This will put them at ease, which will make it easier for them to communicate their feelings to you.

Another way nurses can foster rapport is by listening to the patient and their family members. This will allow them to know you understand what they are going through.

Improve Your Listening Skills

When it comes to communicating with patients, listening is just as important as speaking.

As a nurse, you need to listen well to the patient’s problems in order to figure out how best to assign tasks or delegate information.

Nurses should strive to be good listeners at all times, not just when a patient is explaining their situation. Listening throughout the day is a good way to gather information and learn about your colleagues’ professional and personal lives and what they like about the task at hand. This can help you become more comfortable and confident when communicating with them in the future.

Use Empathy to Connect with Others

A common misconception is that empathy means you should feel sorry for patients or their families.

This may be true in some rare situations, but it can also have the opposite effect.

Empathy for the patient and family members can help you better understand their feelings and needs.

It can also show people that you understand their situation, which will build trust and communication with them. Empathy is not just limited to verbally communicating in person; it can occur through written communications such as emails or letters to patients.

Practicing Active Management of Patient Situations

Take some time during your nursing studies to learn how to practice active listening techniques.

Active listening is a type of active management that allows you to take in important points from the patient and respond appropriately.

This can be done in many ways, such as paraphrasing, summarizing, and clarifying content.

 Say What You Mean (and Mean What You Say)

Being honest and direct is a good way to communicate effectively with people you know, not just patients.

When you are honest, it makes others feel like they can trust you.

If your opinion matters to the patient, let them know; being direct will earn them a lot of respect.

Helpful techniques for being direct and truthful include avoiding vague statements, asking the patient for their ideas and input, and speaking directly about the issue at hand.

Utilize Humor and Slang

Believe it or not, understanding some popular slang terminology and using humor when you speak to patients may actually help them to understand you, which will help build rapport.

Being funny with your words, voice, and body language can let patients know you are someone they can speak to confidently.

Slang terms are a great way to break the barrier between nurses and patients; if you don’t know any slang, look up some phrases on Google and memorize them.

Even if your patient doesn’t understand all of them, they will probably catch on quickly that you are trying to be funny. It’s a great way to make patients feel less intimidated by your profession.

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