Ask an Expert: The art of effective communication
Diane Kelton BSN, RN
Charlotte Davis BSN, RN, CCRN

Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!
February 2013 
Volume 11  Number 1
Pages 55 - 56
  PDF Version Available!

A: You aren't alone! Many nurses struggle with how to attain their patients' trust and effectively communicate important healthcare information. Conveying accurate information in a timely manner decreases patient and family anxiety and increases their trust in the nurse. Here are some tips to improve your communication skills. * Introduce yourself. Inform the patient of your name, title, job role, and expected work hours. Ask the patient how he or she would like to be identified. Many patients may request that you address them by their first name, middle name, nickname, or by a formal title such as "Mr.," "Mrs.," or "Miss." * Be aware ofbody language. Ensure that your spoken words affirming your desire to help the patient match your body language. A brief smile during introduction is appropriate in all cultures, so smile as you introduce yourself. Common nonverbal communication barriers you should avoid are sighs, rolling eyes, firmly crossed arms, rushed movements when performing patient care tasks, and asking the patient if he or she needs any additional care as you're already exiting the room. These nonverbal communication cues convey that you lack the time or desire to provide quality care to the patient. * Know your patient's current and past medical history. When patients have to repeat their medical history, they often feel frustrated and perceive that healthcare providers are rushed, overworked, uninformed, and unfocused on actively resolving their health problems. * Don't interrupt, clarify the problem. During the admission process, ask the patient to clarify what his or her primary health problems are without interrupting. When patients are interrupted, they're often reluctant to offer additional useful information. Allowing the patient to clarify his or her perceived current and past health history can decrease patient frustration and help efficiently resolve knowledge deficits of both the patient and staff. As communication flows, you may identify undiagnosed

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