Communication in Nursing

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COMMUNICATION IN THE NURSE PATIENT RELATIONSHIP|
Mental Health Module|

Introduction

Communication is defined as a process by which we assign and convey meaning in an attempt to create shared understanding. Communication begins when one person sends a message to another with the intent of evoking a response. Effective communication occurs when the receiver interprets the message exactly as the sender intended. This process requires a vast repertoire of skills in intrapersonal and interpersonal processing, listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing, and evaluating. Use of these processes is essential to all areas of life: home, school, community, work, and beyond. Human beings have a compulsive urge to communicate with each other as it is through communication that collaboration and cooperation occur. In a world of many stresses and changes, we need our relationships to sustain us and nourish us as human beings. Communication is central to the process of constructing meaningful and fulfilling relational support. The ability to build and nurture such relationships is a critical life skill, one to be learned and valued.

The Communication Process

The ability to effectively communicate at work, home, and in life is a primary skill as over 80% of our waking life is spent sending or receiving information. It has been proven that poor communication reduces quality, weakens productivity, and eventually leads to conflict among individuals. Communication is fruitful only if the message sent by the sender is interpreted with same meaning by the receiver. The communication process is the guide toward realizing effective communication. It is through the communication process that the sharing of a common meaning between the sender and the receiver takes place. Individuals that follow the communication process will have the opportunity to become more productive in every aspect of their profession. The communication process begins with the sender and ends with the receiver. This process is made up of four key components; encoding, medium of transmission, decoding, and feedback. The sender, an individual, a group or an organization, is who initiates the communication. This source is initially responsible for the success of the message. The sender's experiences, attitudes, knowledge, skill, perceptions, and culture influence the message. The written words, spoken words, and nonverbal language selected are paramount in ensuring the receiver interprets the message as intended by the sender, (Burnett & Dollar, 1989). In order to convey meaning, the sender must begin encoding, which means translating information into a message in the form of symbols that represent ideas or concepts. The symbols can take on numerous forms such as, languages, words, or gestures. When encoding a message, the sender has to begin by deciding what he/she wants to transmit. This decision by the sender is based on what he/she believes about the receivers’ knowledge and assumptions, along with what additional information he/she wants the receiver to have. It is important for the sender to use symbols that are familiar to the intended receiver. To begin transmitting the message, the sender uses a channel or a medium. The channel is the means used to convey the message. Most channels are either oral or written, but currently visual channels are becoming more common as technology expands. After the appropriate channel or channels are selected, the message enters the decoding stage of the communication process. Decoding is conducted by the receiver. Once the message is received and examined, the stimulus is sent to the brain for interpreting. It is this processing stage that constitutes decoding. The receiver begins to interpret the symbols sent by the sender, translating the message to their own set of experiences in order to make the symbols meaningful. Successful communication takes place when the receiver correctly...
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