Assertiveness is an effective communication skill by which an individual expresses his or her thoughts and feelings in an open, direct and honest way. They remain calm and positive when communicating their ideas, but also respect the rights and opinions of others.

The lack of confidence among nurses in expressing their own views within the team is one of the biggest issues in care settings. In response to this matter, instilling assertiveness in nurses is important as they are required to work in a multidisciplinary team.

By being assertive, nurses can better advocate and voice out their observations and views. This is crucial as they are the key players in patient care. Here are some tips to help nurses become more confident in the workplace.

1. Be organised and motivated

For every topic or issue discussed, the nurse must convey her points in a clear and direct manner. In situations where the nurse is proposing something to the team, she should ensure that she is able to substantiate her points with the essential facts and research.

This will increase her self-confidence and train her in handling criticism from others. Additionally, the nurse can find her motivation through her colleagues when she needs assurance. To do so, she will need to recognise the team members who are often actively involved in discussion as they can be motivators to impart her assertiveness.

2. Willing to learn and be open minded

During the times where others are conveying their own ideas, the nurse should be focused and listen attentively. It is crucial to let the person speak and finish their points so that she can get a clear picture of what they are trying to say.

If the nurse has listened carefully, she may realise that the person has offered the same points that she had. It is also possible that what the person said has enabled her to see the situation from a different perspective. This would result in better team coordination and growth.

3. Remain calm and professional

Sometimes, nurses may encounter coworkers who have opposing views with regard to the discussion. One of the ways in which they can handle it is to first remain calm, and then respond to the view accordingly without offending the coworker.

Additionally, the nurse should avoid ‘you’ statements when speaking as much as possible. This will help her to stay professional at all times. For example, the nurse can say “I disagree”, instead of “You’re wrong” as using “you” often creates defensiveness.

4. Learn to say ‘no’

It is crucial that the nurse does not solely agree with opinions or ideas that are completely different from hers. Simply accepting those opinions will ultimately defeat the prime purpose of the discussion.

Furthermore, she must learn to stand up for her own views to the discussion by learning to say ‘no’ when necessary. Having honest, active and responsive members will allow for the best possible outcomes for the discussion.

Learning to be assertive as a nurse takes practice. Through assertive communication, nurses can help the team to better meet its goals and improve patient outcomes. MIMS

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