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Use of effective interpersonal communication strategies by nurses in both personal and professional settings, may reduce stress, promote wellness, and therefore, improve overall quality of life.
The how, what, why, and wherefore of communication can either edify or harm us, as individuals, cultures, religions, and governments of countries, as we attempt to coexist. There is a well-established link between team communication, worker morale, and patient safety. In 1943, Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of human needs wherein he described the basis of human behavior in terms of the priorities of survival (Figure 1). Personal life versus professional role calls us to develop and apply competent skills based on the specific situation, and adopt an appropriate demeanor and response.
Talk openly about the cultural taboos and how they may have contributed to a climate wherein people are reluctant to share or tackle difficult issues.
Conversations and regularly scheduled FACE to FACE meetings are a must for development of rapport, negotiating and problem solving. If your group prefers email for all communication, ask for a scheduled face to face, prepare an agenda and send it out in advance.
It is very important to make eye contact and give undivided attention while the other person is talking. Seek to clarify and resolve the issue, if you feel the other person misinterpreted what you said or meant and as a result there is conflict or bad feelings. If you feel threatened or attacked, step back, remain calm, and provide feedback to the other person(s). It may be helpful to ask for a specific example or incident of the behavior to enable you to have a fuller understanding of what may need to be changed. Do not agree to fulfil obligations, tasks, assignments that you are not fully competent to perform; or clearly qualified to do.
Resolve to learn from your mistakes and flaws and not to repeat the same behavior in the future. Do not use acronyms, abbreviations, or other short-hand language unless everyone on the receiving end knows what they mean. It is common knowledge in present day healthcare that the population requiring care is growing and resources are shrinking. Depression, anxiety, and alcoholism appear more likely to be high in professions with high stress, but there remain gaps in the research literature.
Research supports that mental illnesses are biochemical brain disorders that are strongly genetically linked (Perese, 2012). Effective interpersonal communication is necessary to negotiate the challenges of everyday living, whether in your personal or professional life. What we say, how we say it, and what we mean by it are extremely important, and can be life-changing. We are composed of a plethora of variables that are continuously interacting with one another. Poor team communication has been cited as the number one cause of unnecessary patient deaths related to medical error since the 1990s (Institute of Medicine, 1999). Parroting or mimicking is generally viewed as insincere; if one behaves as a robot, most people will sense this. Large organizations, hospital units, work groups and families run best with a cooperative spirit among individuals. Own your mistakes, apologize when you are wrong, and take action to correct any damage that has been done.
Find the person on your team or work unit who enjoys details, and has the skill to find a misplaced semicolon. Below is some additional discussion and implications for practice to provide further insight into these concerns. Helping professionals may find themselves on one end or the other of the emotional caring spectrum and err by being overinvested in or, conversely, detached from patients.
A disruptive or abusive childhood, adult victimization or trauma of any kind can leave emotional and psychological scars that can be difficult to heal.
For example, if you are spoken to in a disrespectful or condescending manner, by anyone, especially a co-worker, first know that this is unacceptable. Ross and Goldner (2009) conducted a review of the literature to examine stigma, negative attitudes and discrimination toward mental illness from a nursing perspective. Because human beings are complex and each individual brings his or her own set of internal variables to every situation, the possibilities of interactional outcomes of any given communication can be exponential. In order to address this, we need frank, open conversations regarding how our personal internal variables affect our interpretation of the world as we see it. Quigley (September 30, 2014)Factors Related to Healthy Diet and Physical Activity in Hospital-Based Clinical Nurses Nancy M.


Drawing on both the literature and experiences as a longtime provider of care in the mental health field, the author offers multiple practical strategies, with specific examples of possible responses for effective communication. We need communication not only to transmit information and knowledge to one another, but more importantly, to relate to one another as human beings around the world in the context of relationships, families, organizations, and nations.
Low morale contributes to high levels of stress, burnout, poor job satisfaction, and an overall poor quality of life. Despite this realization, the literature, especially in nursing, has not addressed this topic adequately.
Further, criticism has been directed at healthcare providers, including physicians, for their lack of study of interpersonal communication (Hull, 2007; Shapiro, 2011). To say one must perform a certain skill or competency, in my opinion, diminishes our ability to have spontaneous human interactions that are meaningful.
A person may not take time to thoroughly think about the problem and possible solutions because we live in what I have heard described as a hurry-up, fix it now, instant mashed potatoes, just put out the fire culture. Emotional maturity is born of the foregoing experiences, and maturity is necessary to become skilled at negotiation and problem solving. Unfortunately, emotional detachment, a technique adopted by some providers, does not protect one from future or worsening burnout. Survivors of abuse have trouble trusting, and as a result, can misperceive and misinterpret the motives of others.
Assertiveness, or saying NO and setting limits appropriately is an ART that must be learned.
They determined that although substance abuse among nurses has been studied, no such parallel examining nurses with mental illness could be found. Ghaemi (2011) noted that some of the greatest leaders in history suffered from mental illness. Nurses seeking treatment for mental health disorders not only have the ability to improve their own health, but also by their actions may help to address perceived stigma associated with mental illness. This article has hopefully provided an opening dialogue in that direction with pragmatic discussion of common areas of concern. A literature review of conflict communication causes, costs, benefits and interventions in nursing. Stigma, negative attitudes and discrimination towards mental illness within the nursing profession: A review of the literature. Compassion fatigue and nursing work: Can we accurately capture the consequences of caring work?
Recommendations in this article are intended for nurses to consider as they seek healthy communication strategies that may be useful in both their personal and professional lives. Due to our constant exposure to other human beings who are suffering, nurses are perfectly positioned to utilize effective interpersonal communication, and in doing so, support our own emotional, psychological, and spiritual development.
Drawing on both the literature and my experiences as a longtime provider of care in the mental healthcare field, I offer multiple strategies, with specific examples of possible responses for effective communication. For example, it feels very personal when one’s safety is threatened by loss of any kind, whether it is a perceived or actual loss.
Although much has been written on workplace safety, lateral violence, and bullying to address issues that we face as professionals in the workplace, little has addressed how effective interpersonal communication can contribute to a healthy lifestyle in both the personal and professional life of the individual nurse. Figure 2, developed by the author, is a simple representation of how variables might interact to produce a unique individual. The next section will consider some causes and consequences of ineffective interpersonal communication, along with strategies and selected examples to support alternatives.
Although numerous interpersonal communication theories exist, few have been applied to healthcare communication or utilized in any relevant manner by providers (Bylund, Peterson, & Cameron, 2012).
Conflict often can provide the friction we need to discuss issues, consider alternative strategies and solve problems. Work to both develop negotiation and problem solving skills and also to ensure adequate time to allow for appropriate consideration of the problem at hand. For example, physicians have been criticized for their lack of empathy, whereas nurses have been hailed as owning the concept of caring (Spiro, Curren, Peschel, & St. Mistrust of others can create distorted perceptions of the world, distorted communication patterns and general difficulty in personal and professional relationships. The expectation is for nurses, physicians, and all members of the healthcare team to behave professionally at all times.
Unequal power structures, abuse of power, and feelings of powerlessness (including certain unspoken practices both within nursing, medicine and the world) prohibit equalization of power structures. Confident, mature individuals will speak with you face to face and will not hide behind email to communicate important information. In addition to her role as a Nurse Practitioner in the Behavioral Health Clinic at the VA Western New York Healthcare System, she is involved in a number of scholarly, academic, and community service activities which include publishing and presenting. As each person seeks to meet his or her human needs, a number of variables, both internal (or personal factors) and external (or behavior of others) can combine to support effective or ineffective interpersonal communication.


In addition to our genetic makeup and gender, the variables (termed internal predisposing factors) consist of thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that are often learned early in life and shaped by childhood upbringing and experiences. Thus, a knowledge gap exists necessitating a frank discussion and pragmatic strategies for change.
Divorce yourself from antiquated acculturated role expectations of how women or men and nurses are supposed to behave. If you need professional help to resolve your own emotional issues, you owe it to yourself to do this. Then, seek the wisdom of a trusted friend, counselor, or sage and ask for support and advice in order to accomplish your goal.
Focus on the positive and describe the desired behavior, as opposed to one that is undesired. However, Ross and Goldner (2009) did find that nurses with mental illness are both stigmatized and stigmatizers; they judge themselves and others.
Taking the time to consider them as they may apply in our professional and personal lives may go a long way to encourage healthy communication, and thus healthy nurses! Due to her clinical expertise, leadership qualities, compassion for and understanding of patient care, and business acumen she has is sought by peers, colleagues and superiors for participation in numerous diverse task forces, academic and professional development programs, strategic planning initiatives and operations issues both within and outside the Veterans Healthcare Administration (VHA).
Likewise, effective or ineffective communication may impact our ability to satisfy the needs of love and belonging, and also esteem. The next section will offer professional insight that I have gained in my nursing practice related to how multiple variables may impact communication. In my clinical experience with patients, I have observed that early experiences can affect persons deeply, and perceptions of these experiences are not easily changed.
This section will offer selected strategies for effective communication for consideration, drawn from both literature and practice experience. Strive to develop new ways of relating to support more rewarding interpersonal communication experiences. Because problems can evoke negative feelings within us, and we do not want to feel negative feelings.
In regard to ineffective interpersonal communication, Farrell (2001) reported that nurses who have mental illness often felt as though they were targets of bullying and lateral violence in the workplace. Shorthand, texting, hashtags, and social networking lingo should never be used in professional communication. She is a VHA Certified Mentor at the Fellowship level and has mentored staff with special projects.
I offer this not as an exhaustive list of variables, but in the hope that it will provide some context for readers to reflect on their own unique mix of variables as they go on to read and consider the recommendations for effective communication. Women, in particular, who communicate in a firm, assertive manner, may be subject to pejorative remarks in a male dominated environment. For example, a person who has been abused physically, verbally, or sexually by the opposite sex, and unhealed from this, can become unyielding in any future interactions with persons of that gender regardless of the situation or circumstances. State only the consequences that you have power to enforce, and that you will follow through upon. The only way around this frustrating barrier is to bring NO TALK issues forward and discuss them openly and honestly.
Again, table 1 above offers information about how to address communication barriers due to these concerns, using neutral, nonthreatening, wording and actions. In addition to factors that CAN be controlled and factors that CANNOT be controlled, there are factors that may change over time. If the behavior is not addressed and occurs again, your next step is to go up the chain of command.
Therefore, to maintain both physical and emotional health, it is important to strive to maintain the delicate balance between over and under caring.
In your role as a nurse, you will deal with upset patients at times; however, you have the right and responsibility to set limits on inappropriate behavior. Table 1 provides selected examples of suggested verbal interventions that you might utilize to set limits. How have adult relationships such as spouse, children, and significant other influenced you? These are important distinctions that will become clearer in the discussion of the following sections, as applied to interpersonal communication. It is important to understand how these factors have shaped and influenced you, and to what extent. Simply taking the time to engage in self-analysis to develop this type of personal insight can support the effective interpersonal communication necessary to maintain your health.



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