One of the most challenging aspects of a nursing job is the high demand for communication with those around you. Whether they’re patients, doctors or other nurses, you always need to effectively engage with people. Here are a few tips to help.
Improve your body language.
Body language is essential to effective communication. How you stand or pose when you talk can convey messages beyond the words you're saying. Therefore, it's important to identify signs of weak body language and correct them in order to improve your communication skills.1 Try sitting in front of a mirror and look at your posture. Slouching makes you look tired or unsure of yourself, so make an effort to straighten your back as much as possible. You want to be able to look confident and relaxed, not sloppy or lazy. Practice standing and sitting straight, and in no time you'll be doing it without even thinking. Additionally, it's important that when you talk with someone, you maintain eye contact throughout the conversation. This shows them that you're interested in what they're telling you and displays confidence in yourself.
Become a better listener.
For a conversation to be truly successful, listening may be even more important than talking. Listening is how you can build trust and respect with people and develop beneficial working relationships with your coworkers and managers.2 When you're visiting with patients throughout the day, it's also important to listen to them intently because the smallest cues could be a sign of their health improving or declining. “Active listening” is when you convey your understanding by repeating their key points back to them. Make a habit of this in conversations with your friends and family to improve on your listening skills.
When you're learning how to become a nurse, your ability to listen and communicate directly influence your success in the industry. If you have a habit of interrupting people, you’ll want to work on stopping that behavior.3 It's understandable to be excited and want to contribute immediate feedback to ideas, but you need to be sure that you're not cutting off the person with whom you’re speaking. Much like active listening, you may work on resisting the temptation to interrupt people during everyday conversations with those around you.
Sometimes, the conversations you engage in with patients or other nurses may not be the most interesting. Other times, a person might be a poor communicator and have a hard time getting their point across. Because of this, you need to exercise additional patience when talking with people at work. Give people enough time to communicate their point to you and show them that you're interested in helping them. Waiting an extra moment before responding to a person’s comments can often show them that you’re truly listening.
Maintain a positive attitude.
While this is important for your overall quality of life, remaining positive also benefits your communication skills.4 For example, if you're talking with patients about possible treatment plans or potential health outcomes, staying upbeat may go a long way to make them feel better about their current situation.
Keep emotions in check.
It’s also important to know when to scale it back and become a little more serious.5 Throughout nursing training, you may have a variety of conversations that elicit a wide range of emotions. Try to remember that if you get angry or upset, you should remain professional and courteous during the conversation. Be aware of how your emotions may be effecting your ability to communicate and work. Try not to let your emotions cloud your judgment.