9 Communication Tips for Nurses

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    Having effective communication skills can be just as important as your clinical skills. Challenge your communication skills with these 9 communication tips for nurses.

    9 Communication Tips for Nurses

    Communication is an integral part of life. In its simplest form, communication is the act of transferring information from one person to another. In healthcare, a large portion of the responsibility for communication falls on nurses.

    According to one study, effective communication by nurses may reduce stress, promote wellness and therefore improve the overall quality of life of patients.

    As a nurse, you are responsible for relaying information to many individuals. You must be able to communicate clearly, especially during times of stress. Your ability to communicate effectively in both written and verbal communication is just as important as your clinical skills.

    Let's explore 9 quick communication tips for nurses.

    Clear, Slow Speech

    Speak in a clear, slow manner to give the person receiving the information the best possible chance of understanding. This sounds simple. In reality, nurses have 100 things on their minds at all hours of the day. So, this can take some practice.

    Just remember, louder is not always better.

    No Slang, Cursing

    Raise your hand if you have ever heard a nurse drop the "f" bomb in a patient care setting.

    Go on! Raise your hand! We have all heard it and many of us have even been the one doing it. But, it is okay?

    Nursing is a trusted profession. Along with trust comes responsibility. Patients rely on you for ethical, honest treatment. Cursing can change how people perceive you, ultimately changing how much they trust you.

    The professional setting is not the place for slang or cursing.

    Know Your Audience

    If you are speaking with colleagues, you can use medical terminology, acronyms and all of the big words you like. When speaking with patients and families, remember that those words may not mean much and may even be scary or intimidating.

    Listen Well

    Most of us listen to respond. As a nurse, you must learn how to listen to understand. Your patient holds important information about their symptoms and ultimately, the treatment they need.

    Give your full attention. Ask questions. Give the patient plenty of time to talk. Listen as though they are your mother, father or other loved one. When we allow the patient to touch our heartstrings, we are more likely to act and listen with empathy.


    If you are having difficulty communicating with a patient, try using the therapeutic communication tool of reflection.

    Reflection is the process of paraphrasing and restating both the feelings and words of the patient. This allows the patient to "hear" their own thoughts and to focus on what they say and feel. It shows the patient you are trying to perceive the world as they see it and that you are doing your best to understand them. Reflection encourages the patient to continue talking.

    Body Language

    Have you ever consciously paid attention to your body language when you are in stressful situations? If not, try it. You will learn a lot about how your body expresses your feelings.

    You will likely notice that your muscles are tense. Your arms may be across your body. Your hands may be balled up into fists. And, your face, well it can be scrunched up into any number of positions!

    This is a form of communication. When you consciously consider what you're communicating through our body language, you become a more effective communicator.

    Know Your Own Weakness

    We all have them. In order to be a better communicator, you must know your biggest barriers and consciously work to improve.

    Maybe you shut down during times of confrontation. Maybe you talk all the time and listen minimally. Whatever it is, don't beat yourself up about it, just work on it.

    Keep Your Word

    One of the simplest ways to inspire trust in your relationships is to keep your word. If you tell a patient you will be back in 10 minutes with pain meds, be there. If an unforeseen event has occurred, pop in for 2 seconds to let them know you are tied up but have not forgotten them.

    Keeping your word allows others to know they can trust you.

    Make Eye Contact

    Ok, this one is super simple! But, very effective.

    Have you ever told your patient that you are listening while you are charting? Of course, you have. We all have! But consider what you may be missing by not maintaining eye contact with your patient.

    These are all simple communication tips you can start today! In our society of multi-tasking and technology, we are losing the art of verbal and written communication. Take a few minutes to consider these tips. Which one could you use during your next shift?
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14
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