Talking to your colleague at work, conversing with your customer over the phone, speaking to the coffee shop uncle – these are all examples of interpersonal skills. They are the daily life skills people use to interact and communicate with each other. In a healthcare environment, where everything is fast-paced and busy, patients and nurses alike can easily get stressed out and become agitated at short notice. As such, advanced interpersonal skills are required to resolve situations with high tension and smoothly resolve any problems that arise from misunderstandings. Below are three reasons as to why having such skills can benefit you greatly in your nursing profession:

1. Build confidence and develop positive growth

Whether you are an accountant, a doctor, a teacher, an engineer, or a nurse, it does not matter – interpersonal skills are necessary for every occupation. With good interpersonal skills, you will find tough communication situations, such as informing the patient of bad news or responding to difficult questions, easier to manage. This will build your confidence, and soon enough no matter what sort of circumstances you find yourself in, you will be able to work around it and further strengthen your confidence, leading to positive personal development.

Becoming more confident also helps you to become better at your skills, and can thus lead to an increase in patient satisfaction, improve recovery rates, and better patient outcomes. Conversely, poor interpersonal skills result in poor communication, and can lead to possible fatal outcomes on patients due to miscommunications of medical concepts and errors.

2. Minimise abuse and harassment from patients

Abuse and harassment are very real and common in the healthcare workplace. Nurses often withstand the worst of patients’ anger and frustration. Just this year, The Straits Times reported that there was an increase in nurses’ workplace physical and verbal abuse. Abuse happens frequently in the accident and emergency (A&E) departments and intensive care units (ICU) where strong emotions run high and tension are palpable. Such abuse can lower morale and inculcate feelings of unhappiness at the workplace, resulting in a lack of dedication and confidence of the nurse.

As a nurse, improving your interpersonal skills can result in better communication and therefore minimise chances of such occurrences. In times of conflict, you will find that you can better handle and resolve it quickly. Thus, you can prevent situations from getting out of hand and reduce any possible casualties.

3. Facilitate effective communication with colleagues and patients

Interpersonal skills help you to work better in a team and communicate effectively with both colleagues and patients. When you communicate effectively, you also have a clearer understanding of your patients’ needs and feelings. Good communication with patients also influences their mood and health positively, leading to the formation of a better nurse-patient relationship.

Working on good interpersonal skills can build better relationships with your colleagues and patients. It also helps to get the job done quickly, correctly and properly. You can garner good rapport and in turn experience positive feelings.

The cultivation of good, effective interpersonal skills is not easy, and it will be a demanding and challenging task. However, developing your interpersonal skills will certainly be rewarding for yourself, your patients and your colleagues. MIMS

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