Since nurses spend a lot of time with their patients, they directly affect patient experiences of care. It is important for patients to be reassured that their nurses are able to understand and relate to them, especially when they share of their experiences with the nurse. Here are 5 tips that can help nurses to better relate to their patients.

1. Make an effort to get to know patients better

Putting in effort to get to know patients better instead of merely assessing their medical conditions can have a positive impact on patient care and communication. It can also help the nurse to get a better understanding of their health issues. This is actually the basis of person-centred care - When nurses initiate a friendly conversation to know more about their patients’ habits, hobbies, likes and dislikes, it would make them feel more comfortable and valued. Nurses can also show their keen interest in getting to know their patients by taking mental notes to help them to remember the details that they have shared. Being interested to know more about patients can also enhance their sense of worth.

2. Show enthusiasm and empathy

Enthusiasm and empathy go a long way in patient care. In order for nurses to be able to relate to their patients, it is important that they demonstrate their interest in their lives through proper eye contact, body language, intonation and facial expressions. Nurses can also validate their patients’ concerns and emotions to show that they understand them. In addition, they can learn how to demonstrate their empathy in their speech, an example being “I understand, and I’m sure that is frustrating for you. Let’s see what we can do about that.” Patients often perceive certain situations differently when they can detect their nurse’s enthusiasm and empathy towards their needs and concerns.

3. Be sincere when talking to the patient

Patients will feel more appreciated by nurses when they choose to be sincere with them and genuinely have compassion towards them. In view of this, nurses should not attempt to fake or exaggerate their display of emotions when interacting with patients. This may cause them come across as insincere, which is likely to make patients feel uncomfortable when talking to them. In addition, it is important for nurses to be attentive to their patient’s needs and genuinely want to meet them as much as possible.

4. Share knowledge and experience that is related to what the patient is going through

Nurses should try to find common topics when conversing with patients; these topics can also be based on their own professional and personal experiences. When patients feel that they cannot relate to the nurse and vice versa, they would most likely lose interest in engaging further in the conversation. Nurses should hence relate something from their own experience to their responses. The conversation can also be a good opportunity for the nurse to educate them regarding health matters.

5. Refrain from passing judgment towards patients

Nurses need to avoid making judgmental or discriminatory statements about patients. This is because doing so would put them in a guilty, inferior or uncomfortable position that causes them to refuse to communicate further with the nurse. It is important that they choose their words carefully and avoid giving tactless comments. A key rule would be to prioritise compassion and understanding to the patient’s plight and offer advice only after this has been achieved.

Nurses can successfully converse with their patients once they find common topics to discuss or share more about. For patients, knowing that they are able to connect with their nurse can help them to lower their guard in certain situations where they refuse to co-operate or communicate. It also gives them the reassurance that their nurses are accessible and not distant or disconnected from them. MIMS

Read more:
Nurses: The importance of communicating with patients to form a positive relationship
Utilising nonverbal communication in the nurse-patient relationship
Healthcare professionals: 4 non-verbal ways of communication that you should be using with your patients
Nurses: Handling patients with challenging conditions – part I

[1] Fick, Donna M. et al. “Do You Know Your Patient?: Knowing Individuals with Dementia Combined with Evidence-Based Care Promotes Function and Satisfaction in Hospitalized Older Adults.” Journal of gerontological nursing 39.9 (2013): 2–4. PMC. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.