According to the American Nurses Association, effective communication is a fundamental aspect of professional performance for registered nurses.
The standard requires nurses to be able to communicate effectively in all areas of their practice.
This includes the use of appropriate verbal and nonverbal communication, assertive communication, understanding personal space, and being able to overcome common obstacles to effective communication.
Types of communication
In order to effectively communicate and build relationships with clients and patients, it is important for nurses to understand the different modes of communication.
One mode is verbal communication, which utilizes spoken or written language. Another mode is non-verbal communication, which utilizes forms such as gestures and facial expressions.
It is important to note that these two modes occur simultaneously, with nonverbal communication making up the majority of overall communication, estimated to be between 80-90%. Therefore, nurses should prioritize learning about non-verbal communication.
This is a conscious act in which individuals carefully choose the words they use to convey a wide range of emotions, such as sadness or annoyance.
The rhythm and pacing of speech also play a crucial role in communication. When nurses are communicating through speech or writing, they should consider the following criteria:
The message should be constructed using simple language and commonly used vocabulary.
The words used should convey the intended meaning.
Timing and Relevance:
The timing of the message should be appropriate and it should be relevant to the person’s interests.
Nurses should be sensitive to the patient’s needs when choosing words.
The spoken message should be adjusted based on the receiver’s behavioral cues. For example, a nurse should speak in a low tone if the patient is sad.
The nurse should be considered trustworthy, dependable, and honest.
Credibility is established through knowledge of the subject matter and providing correct information to the patient.
It’s important to keep in mind that verbal communication is a conscious act and nurses should take the time to choose their words carefully in order to effectively convey their message.
This is also known as body language, encompasses gestures, body movements, and physical appearance.
Because non-verbal communication is less consciously controlled, it can reveal more about a person’s true feelings rather than their spoken words.
As nurses are constantly under the scrutiny of their clients, it is crucial for them to be aware of their actions and to convey understanding, respect, and acceptance of their clients’ perspectives.
To effectively interpret non-verbal behavior, nurses should adopt a systematic approach, assessing overall physical appearance, postures and gait, and specific parts of the body such as the face and hands.
They should also be alert to sudden changes in a person’s appearance, which may indicate a loss of self-esteem or a physical illness.
Clothing can also provide valuable information, conveying social and financial status, culture, religion, group association and self-concept.
Posture and gait
Posture and gait can indicate a person’s self-concept, mood and health status. For example, a tense posture and rapid determined gait may indicate anger and anxiety.
Facial expressions can easily reveal emotions such as joy, sadness, fear, surprise, and anger.
Nurses should also be aware that patients may observe their own facial expressions and should strive to control their own emotions, especially in certain situations. Eye and mouth muscles are particularly expressive and eye contact can convey assurance and trust.
Hand movements and gestures
Hand movements and gestures can also communicate feelings at any given moment.
For example, an anxious patient may wring their hands or pick their nails. Hands are also involved in gestures, such as a handshake being a friendly sign.
Hands are also very expressive in verbal communication and can reinforce the verbal message.
For people with special communication problems, such as the deaf, dumb, or blind, they learn sign language with the use of hands.
In sickness also, when the patient cannot talk verbally, they use their hands to convey their needs.
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