Communication is one of the most important skills you’ll need to be an excellent nurse. It enables you to accurately identify patient needs, care for people in the most effective and compassionate manner, and provide vital emotional support to both patients and their loved ones in difficult times. Good communication can also help to ensure that your patients trust you and take your advice.
So, how can you boost your skills in this crucial area? Read on for some top tips.
Practice key techniques
Certain tactics you can employ will immediately take your communication skills to the next level. For example, try asking open questions rather than closed ones that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This will encourage patients to talk and allow you to learn more. It’s also a good idea to frequently summarize what a patient is telling you to ensure that you’ve understood them correctly. Lastly, always be patient and attentive regardless of what kind of mood you’re in or how your day is going!
Adjust your style depending on the person
Everyone is different, which means that you may have to adjust your communication style to get your message across clearly. For example, if you’re talking to a young child, you might need to simplify your language. Conversely, if you’re dealing with someone with some prior medical knowledge, you should avoid dumbing your language down too much, as you might sound patronizing. When chatting with seniors, on the other hand, you may need to raise your voice and speak more slowly for them to hear you clearly.
Ask for feedback
It’s often difficult to assess your own abilities, so asking for feedback can be helpful. One of the best opportunities for this is when you’re studying in your UIndy online nursing program or completing the associated clinical placements. However, if you’re already a nurse, you can ask your colleagues and perhaps even some of your patients for their input. This will enable you to identify your strengths and weaknesses more accurately and develop an effective plan of action for improving your communication skills.
Listening is a crucial aspect of communication and involves hearing what someone is saying and understanding the meaning behind their words. Being an active listener ensures you can provide better care to your patients and will also enable people to feel that you are genuinely paying attention to them. Focus all your attention on the other person when having a conversation, and be fully present in the moment.
Don’t forget about non-verbal communication
A surprisingly large percentage of communication is non-verbal, so it’s vital to focus on those factors. For instance, be sure to make eye contact with patients when you’re speaking to them, and be aware of what your (and their) body language is saying. Crossed arms can make you seem unfriendly, hostile, or defensive, while fidgeting can give an impression of boredom or nervousness. Always aim to have an open posture when you’re communicating, and don’t be afraid to use gestures to clarify your point.