Improved communication skills begin with learning how to listen.
Nurses do a lot of talking during their daily routines, but listening skills are just as important to your relationships with patients and co-workers. Listening often means more than just hearing words; a good listener knows what to do with what she hears. It can be a delicate balance to achieve while trying to determine whether to provide comfort or to step in with guidance, and when to ask questions or clarify information.
Listening to Your Patients
Your patients should be encouraged to speak up when they are confused, hurting, or experiencing a new symptom. Do you make your patients feel comfortable talking to you? You cant listen if they are intimidated by you or can't get in a word while you rush from bedside to bedside. Let your patients know that you are there for them and they should feel safe to confide in you whenever they need something.
Listening to Your Co-Workers
Miscommunications in a hospital setting can have harmful or even fatal consequences. Listening and comprehension among co-workers is vital for the safety of everyone. Don't be shy about speaking up when instructions confuse you, when you aren't sure of your responsibilities, or when something isn't clear. Listening skills are especially important during shift changes. Everything may be chaotic and the earlier shift's nurses are longing to get home, but taking the time to communicate and listen effectively could make a huge difference in the care of a patient.
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Biggest Communication Mistakes in Nursing
Communication mistakes with patients or co-workers can have unfortunate results.
Communication mistakes within hospitals can decrease the quality of patient care, erode crucial teamwork relationships, and result in confusion, frustration, and wasted time. Do your part to create a safe and smooth working environment by avoiding the common communication mistakes that nurses can make.
■Watch out for language barriers. Your words matter most when you are trying to communicate with a patient about self-care. If your patient isn't fluent in English, make sure a translator is getting your instructions across clearly. If your patient can't read, don't rely on written instructions to get them by.
■Be aware of the commitments you make. Nurses are busy people. You might be surprised by how often you tell a patient or co-worker you'll "be right back" before disappearing for an hour or more. Make sure you mean the words you say.
■Listen to your patients. Good communication works both ways. Even if you're overworked that day, your patients deserve a nurse who will listen to their questions and concerns. Don't tune them out or give them thin, unhelpful responses as you scurry out of their rooms.
■Don't rush home when the shifts change. Most miscommunications between nurses occur during a shift change. No matter how badly you want to clock out and head home, take the necessary time to pass along all important information to the nurse taking over for your patients.