Effective Communication

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Effective Communication

by
Louise Diehl, RN, MSN, ND, CCRN, ACNS-BC, NP-C
Nurse Practitioner - Owner
Doctor of Naturopathy
Lehigh Valley Wellness Center

Communication is essential for nurses as a key member of the health care team. Effective communication is essential with the clients/patients (our external customers) and the other members of the health care team (our internal customers).

We communicate continuously in our roles. We use verbal, nonverbal, written, and electronic methods of communication. We must develop effective and appropriate communication methods and utilize communication to best serve our clients/patients.

There are certain measures you can take to communicate effectively. These measures require that you take a few moments and focus on the message you are trying to put forward.

    Think before you communicate
    Consider who your listener is.
    What is his/her the level of receiving at the time of the communication.
    Concentrate on what you are communicating, how you are communicating, and how your listener is receiving the communication
    Change or adapt the method of communication depending on how the listener is receiving the communication
    Control your voice, pay attention to your:
        tone
        speed
        volume
        pronunciation
    Pay attention to your nonverbal communication
    Avoid technical or confusing terminology or medical jargon. Avoid using slang words.
    Avoid emotionally charged discussions and phrases.
    Request feedback from the person you are communicating with, to determine if your message was received as you intended.
    If your communication was ineffective or not received properly, re-phrase the message.

Effective written communication requires that the message is clear and in language the reader will be able to understand.

    Use words, phrases the reader can understand.
    Direct the level of reading to the reader’s level of reading.
    Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
    If the written communication is hand written, be sure that it is legible.

We all use nonverbal communication as we verbally communicate. This nonverbal communication can send messages that are congruent or noncongruent with our verbal communication. The key components of nonverbal communication are: body posture and postioning, physical gestures, facial expressions, clothing and physical appearance, distance and personal space, physical environment, and time. Be sure to be cognizant of the nonverbal communication that you are sending when you are communicating.

Many forms of electronic communication are employed in today’s health care arena. There are key dimensions that apply to this communication as well.

    Accuracy
    Confidentiality
    Timeliness
    Delivery of message

When communicating be sure to provide privacy as indicated for the situation. Always provide confidentiality when communicating with or about patients.

HOW CAN I SAY IT BETTER?
  NEGATIVE POSITIVE
1. "I don’t know" "I’ll find out"
2. "No" "What can I do"
3. "That’s not my job" "This is who can help you"
4. "You’re right this stinks" "I understand your frustration"
5. "That’s not my fault" "Let’s see what we can do about this"
6. "You need to talk to my manager" "I can help you"
7. "You want it when?" "I’ll try my best"
8. "Calm down" "I’m sorry"
9. "I’m busy right now" "I’ll be with you in just a moment"
10. "Call me back" "I’ll call you back"

Reference:  Karen Leland and Keith Bailey, "Ten Major Don’ts (and Do’s) of Customer Service", Customer Service for Dummies