Research has shown that quit rates pertaining to smoking among patients in hospital more than doubled when nurses together with other staff were trained on coaching patients on how to break the addiction, and actively took steps to explain the harmful effects of smoking to patients. Obviously, effective communication by nurses can do a world of good if applied correctly - so what is the secret to achieving this?

1. Give patients undivided attention during conversations

Nurses must offer full focus to patients when in a conversation. If a patient request is not met due to misinterpretation or lack of concentration, there is no doubt that the patient reserves the right to be frustrated and/or angry that the nurse was not paying attention, fully defeating the purpose of communication with one another in the first place.

A lack of focus when conversing with the patient will lead to the patient feeling unimportant or neglected - a sign of very ineffective communication. Patients are likely to get upset and angry if asked to reiterate, especially when already not feeling well - another reason why paying rapt attention is so important. Body language is no less so - Maintaining eye contact and nodding affirmatively to indicate that they are listening may seem like small things, but are vital to reassure a patient. 

2. Be mindful of the way communication is conducted

Patients are usually in a state of pain and confusion due to illness or injury, thus it is important to speak clearly, slowly and refrain from using complex medical terms that requires much brainpower to process. Body language and tone will also contribute heavily towards how the communication is received by the patient - e.g., nurses should choose to rest their arms by their sides instead of crossing them over their chest when talking, because this is a defensive posture that could indicate problems or a reluctance to engage, both of which could distress the patient.

3. Keep stress levels in check

Being aware of and in full control of emotions is also very important for effective communication. For example, if a patient gets agitated or angry and takes it out on the nurse, the nurse will need to respond in an appropriate manner in order to prevent the situation from worsening - This means keeping his/her own emotions in check and working on calming the patient down instead.

Poor communication skills have the potential to destroy the delicate relationship between a patient and a nurse - and every miscommunication or misinterpretation is fraught with the possibility of dire consequences, for both parties. As the patient is, after all, the patient, the onus is on the nurse to ensure that communication is kept civil and clear at all times. MIMS

Read more:
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