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Interpersonal Communication in Nursing

In most instances, consumers’ initial contact with a care provider organization starts with a nurse. Because of this, it is critical that nurses possess capable interpersonal communication skills. Nurses who are skilled communicators help to establish trust with patients and elicit cooperative responses to treatment plans. As a result, ongoing, positive rapport is essential for successful patient recovery.

A Nurse Caring for a Patient

The following traits and skills help nurses to promote rapport with patients and coworkers.

Precise Communication

The most important skill a nurse can possess is the ability to listen actively. [1] This is particularly critical, because most consumers do not have training in medical terminology and symptom diagnosis. As a result, nurses must listen carefully to decipher the symptomatic clues offered by consumers and verbally paraphrase those responses to ensure accuracy.

Nurses assume the responsibility of relaying accurate information between physicians, patients and families to ensure effective treatment decisions. Clear communication is important for nurses in both verbal and written contexts. During emergencies, accurate information can make the difference between life and death.

Patience and Considerate Levity

Patience plays an important role in many aspects of nursing work. Effective caregivers provide information that calms upset family members without internalizing anxious or agitated reactions. With patient and appropriate humor, nurses reassure upset, impatient or demanding stakeholders, that they will receive information as soon as it develops. This is especially applicable when patient cases result in an undesired outcome. Additionally, appropriately used humor can lighten a tense atmosphere and may raise depressed spirits. The ability to use humor therapeutically is a gift, and nurses with this skill have frequently been able to maintain peaceful, cooperative relationships with patients and their families.

Team Spirit

A team-oriented mentality usually correlates with effective interpersonal communication, which improves organizational performance and job satisfaction. Many factors converge to shape nursing professionals’ outlook when working and communicating together. These include each person’s emotions, perceptions, and experiences. While nurses cannot control most of these factors, they can work on building a team environment that provides support in coping with life circumstances and make interpersonal communication an effective, natural process. Nurses who work well together promote higher morale and maintain safer environments for patients and peers. [2] Furthermore, nurses who work together find it easier to manage stress and enjoy greater job satisfaction as well as a better quality of life.

Conflict Resolution

Conflicts need not take a disruptive undertone. [3] In fact, nursing professionals can use conflicts as a positive learning opportunity. Conflicts arise due to variables such as opposing opinions, beliefs, emotional states and outlooks. Interpersonal conflicts take place when two or more individuals have a disagreement. Competitive conflicts occur when two or more groups vie against each other to accomplish the same objective. Disruptive conflicts occur when one party tries to defeat and demean another party. Oftentimes, conflicts of this nature arise when resources required to fulfill important responsibilities are in short supply.

Nurses who are able to see the situation from different viewpoints and who are willing to listen to differing views are usually able to find a genuine resolution to the apparent disagreement. Confronting and resolving issues in a mature and professional manner is an indication of emotional maturity. It is important that nurses use logic, recognizing emotional factors, to make critical workplace decisions.

Promoting Positive Communication Patterns

It is important that nurses evaluate information, especially if they sense that something is inaccurate. [2] In these instances, it’s better to put personal feelings aside and err on the side of caution. As professionals, nurses are entitled to full explanations about activities affecting work matters. By ensuring that information is accurate, nurses can maintain positive relationship with patients and peers as well as reduce miscommunications.

In the caregiving setting, effective nurses support intelligent questioning to promote an environment that fosters teamwork, rapport and trust. As America’s nursing professionals must serve more consumers with fewer resources, open and effective interpersonal communications will become the new norm.

Learn More
Adventist University started building its solid foundation for nursing education in 1908 when it began training nurses so healthcare could be provided for more people. Today they offer cutting edge education and experienced faculty dedicated to helping individuals interested in pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing degree.

Recommended Readings:
10 TED Talks about Healthcare for Healthcare Administrators
Stress Management for Caregivers
The Future of Personalized Medicine



[2] bleofContents/Vol-19-2014/No3-Sept-2014/Effective-Interpersonal-Communication.html