nurse communication

Communicating Together

People today often prefer to communicate in any way except face to face. Most people are using some form of digital technology; texting, social media, selfies, email. Few enjoy the art of writing letters, still a favorite of those from days gone by. Telephone calls are even less often selected in favor of call screening. Leave a voicemail, get one back. Or virtual calls which permit muting, blocking cameras, multitasking. You get the feeling people don’t really want to talk to each other. They don’t want all the drama, transparency, time needed to invest.

This can play a serious role in the ability to have meaningful conversations, which are critical in the workplace. While many nurses are personable and able to have conversations, some nurses really struggle. They don’t know how to deal with emotions in conversations and any confrontation is typically drama filled due to the lack of experience having hard conversations.

What used to be a daily occurrence is now almost a lost art. The good news is that the skill can be learned and mastered, allowing for joyful and serious communications to occur without a major event. There are a few key points to mastering the art of conversation and confrontation.

  1. Know yourself – There are some great tools to discern your personality type. They are great assessments that help you identify your personality, favorite style of interaction.
  2. Know your team – These same principles apply to the team you work with. It helps to understand how each person scores so that you can understand more about what makes each person tick.
  3. Acknowledge your emotions – It is normal in a day, whether at home or work, that you will have an assortment of emotions (anger, joy, playfulness, sadness, etc). It is OK to have any of these, or all of these. If something or someone has made you angry, own it.
  4. Start all complaints with the person involved, not everyone else – Gossip does not solve anything . It is gossip when you talk about the issue with the rest of your work mates. This causes division and emotions to build that can fracture the workplace and make it a drag to be there.
  5. Have your conversations in private – Make them factual, not emotional. Use ‘I’ statements not ‘You’. And stay committed to get resolve. That may mean taking the high road, apologizing. Nurses are the most trusted profession so we need to start with each other. Honest, direct conversations.  

If you are not comfortable speaking, talking in serious conversations or need to master skills for crucial conversations you may want to check these out:

While it may take some practice to master the art of communication, start by being sincere and don’t stop until you get it right. Lay your device down, sit relaxed, make eye contact, listen well and hear what they are saying. You will learn much, grow more and become the best team member ever!

Guest Post: Judy Gates, RN, MSN is a Banner Health Clinical Education Director and is accountable for providing managerial and clinical education support. She has worked as a pediatric and trauma ICU nurse and wound care consultant. She is a published author and thought leader.