Good communication in healthcare is crucial, especially when dealing with patients or their family members.
For healthcare professionals, good communication skills aren’t only a helpful trait. They’re a core competency. Effective and timely communication builds trust among team members, patients, and care providers alike. Here are five tips on how to hone your communication skills:
Listening is the most important part of communication. Allowing your patients to share their thoughts and feelings will provide valuable information about their lifestyles and beliefs. Listening to your patients also helps to develop a rapport with them, which is a MUST for a healthcare provider as it aids in the appropriate treatment decisions.
When you are listening, you need to be aware of your body language. Your body language says a lot about you. This nonverbal type of communication plays a huge factor in the patient-provider relationship. Maintaining eye contact, nodding appropriately, and empathizing with your patients or their relatives are signs of active listening. Contradictory, looking around, looking at your watch, making faces or making noises are signs that you are not listening and you are not interested in what your patients have to say.
Remember, people will make a judgment of your personality without you even uttering a word simply by observing your body language. So, make sure it is on track.
#2: Take Responsibility
If you miscommunicate (unintentionally), take responsibility for it. This will only increase your credibility and dependability as a healthcare provider. Also, if you said you are going to do something and cannot do it, say so. Even in front of your patient and family, take responsibility of your do’s and don’ts. Everyone makes mistakes and can improve in one or other areas of life. The idea is to learn from your mistakes. But, it is NOT okay to hide your mistake and lie about it.
#3: Be Honest
To speak honestly, you really need to provide all of the information you have. Don’t try to hide any data when you are communicating with other healthcare providers who are responsible for the patient’s plan of care. Of course, you should not violate HIPPA rules or share any unrelated information. Rather, make sure you provide all the necessary information for the other healthcare providers on your team so they can do their jobs safely and appropriately.
#4: When in Doubt, Say it:
Healthcare is an evolving industry. New medical technologies are released almost daily. There will be a time and place when you may not have heard about a diagnosis or a technique. It is okay to admit this and learn from it. No one knows everything! It is not knowledge that makes you a better person or even a better therapist. It is, in fact, your attitude to learn new things and keep up to date with new research as well as your caring nature that helps you stand out in a crowd.
#5: Be Objective
No one wants to know your personal opinions about a patient, his family, doctor, nurse or fellow therapist. The patient’s current status and functional outcomes are what matter. So, be professional, and objective, and use your clinical expertise when you share information.
What about you? Do you have any tips on how to provide good communication in healthcare situations, perhaps with difficult patients or interdisciplinary team members? If so, tell us in the Comments section below.