Communication is an important part of both nursing and personal life. Communicating effectively will help you excel at work and in travel nursing interviews, and may improve the existing bonds you have with friends and family.
We’ve created a list of tips for improving your communication skills to help you thrive as a nurse and beyond.
Read on to learn more!
What Is Effective Communication?
First, we need to define what effective communication looks like. While it may sound simple, effective communication is a process that involves far more than the exchange of information.
An effective communicator also understands the emotional content of the message and the intentions of the person they are communicating with while maintaining self-awareness and respect for the speaker.
Learn How to Listen
Listening is probably the most important part of communicating effectively. “Active listening” is the process of fully concentrating on the message being communicated, rather than simply “hearing” what is said.
Active Listening is a way of engaging in conversation that requires effort and concentration; it shows the speaker you are invested in what they are saying. To actively listen, the listener pays attention to the speaker’s verbal and nonverbal language, acknowledging the speaker’s opinion without expressing judgment.
These strategies lead to more successful and mutually beneficial interactions. Here are a few tips for active listening:
- Focus closely on the message being communicated, without distraction.
- Encourage the speaker to communicate fully, openly and honestly.
- Monitor non-verbal language/cues.
- Ask questions, paraphrase, and summarize to enhance your understanding of the message and show your concern.
- Avoid judgment or jumping to conclusions.
- Don’t interrupt or start thinking of a response before the speaker is finished.
Active listening takes practice to do well, but awareness is the first step! To learn more about active listening, check out this article by Heart Matters.
Read Nonverbal Signals
Did you know that a significant portion of communication is nonverbal? Reading nonverbal cues is an essential part of effective communication, so it’s important to maintain sensitivity to this part of the process.
According to Verywell Mind, nonverbal communication includes:
- Facial expressions
- Gestures and movements
- “Paralinguistics” – tone of voice, volume, pitch, inflection
- Eye contact
- Body language and posture
- Haptics, or communicating through touch
Manage Your Emotions
Nursing can be a fast-paced, stressful job. When we are under stress, it is more difficult to maintain self-awareness and manage our emotions. However, this is a key element of effective communication.
When our emotions are unmanaged, we can misunderstand what people are saying or misread their body language. We also tend to display confusing body language ourselves, or jump to conclusions that are untrue.
When you must communicate in a stressful situation, focus on remaining calm and avoiding knee-jerk reactions to what is being said.
Be Confident and Assertive
While it’s important to manage emotions and be an engaged listener, remaining confident and assertive while communicating will improve the clarity of your message. According to HelpGuide.org, “being assertive means expressing your thoughts, feelings, and needs in an open and honest way, while standing up for yourself and respecting others.”
Remember, being assertive does not mean being hostile or aggressive toward other people.
In addition, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are confused about the message. Asking for more information to clarify certain points is a good thing – it will help you understand the speaker and show them you care about what they are saying.
Be Willing to Compromise
Compromise is an agreement in a dispute that is reached by both sides making concessions.
If you are involved in a conflict or disagreement, try to reach a conclusion that reduces the chance of future conflict. Compromise is not always pleasant, but it is the best way to ensure successful communication in the future.
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