“Communication is at the heart of who we are as human beings.” (Rimal & Lapinski, 2009, p. 247). Communication is defined in the Australian Oxford Mini Dictionary as the sharing or imparting of information (2010, p. 102). The ability to communicate effectively with patients is important in establishing a therapeutic relationship that will contribute to their care needs, both physically and emotionally (Stein-Parbury, 2009, p. 9). This essay is about the communication skills used by Nurse Gwen during a consultation with Mrs Smith in scenario two. Throughout the essay, it will identify three types of communication skills used by Nurse Gwen, empathetic listening, open-ended questions and body language. This essay will also explore how Nurse Gwen used these skills and explain why they were effective in easing the concerns of Mrs Smith.
Empathy is fundamental in good communication, but is often confused with sympathy (Winnett, 2011). The Oxford Mini-dictionary for Nurses (2008, p. 208) describes empathy as an ability to understand the thoughts and emotions of another person. Empathy is non-judgemental and is void of all personal values (Aragno, 2008, p. 715). Listening to the patient is as much about communication (Dwyer, 2010a) and empathy, as is verbally communicating with the patient. The ability to listen empathetically is using the skills to pay attention to what the patient is saying, both verbally and non-verbally (Candlin, 2008, p. 91), and to understand their thoughts and feelings behind the message they are presenting to the receiver (Aragno, 2008, p. 714). Nurse Gwen used these skills by being empathetic to what Mrs Smith was saying and confirming that she was listening to her by commenting, “Mrs Smith, I can tell how anxious you are”. This statement made Mrs Smith feel as if she was heard and showed that Nurse Gwen understood the thoughts and emotions Mrs Smith was feeling. While listening with an empathetic ear is an important aspect...
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