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Structuring the communication process between the nurse and patient/client

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  1. Introduction
  2. Body language and non-verbal communication
  3. Knowledge of the patient
  4. Open verbal interaction and its importance
  5. The use of listening skills
  6. The verbal message
  7. Conclusion
  8. Reference list

Communication is possibly one of the most important tasks nurses perform in the execution of their duties. We may as a matter of habit take for granted the way we greet and end encounters with those around us, not considering what these actions portray. As professionals greater emphasis must be attached to these encounters if we are to leave patients with a positive attitude. When we the look at the process of ?opening and closing encounters' all aspects of communication: verbal, non-verbal, appearance, knowledge and interpersonal skills must be examined and scrutinized whilst dealing with patients. The importance of self-awareness should not be overlooked.

Kagan (1985) says, ?One essential factor in good interpersonal interaction is self-awareness?. The saying ?first impressions last' could be well heeded by all nurses, ignoring this just might leave the patient with an ill-defined reflection of yourself and the area you are working in. Fontana (1990) says ?first impressions are important, we need to work at them?. Our interactions should be patient centered. We should consider that these encounters are more likely to succeed, in having the desired outcome, if we think along the lines of person to person communication and not nurse to patient. With attention draw to these factors the author will attempt to guide the reader through the process of ?opening and closing encounters' leading to ?a positive attitude and perception in the patient / client'.

[...] Porrit (1991) says, ?Non-verbal communication is an important yet overlooked part of a whole communication and the interactions which occur between people?. Faulkner (1992) adds, ?Many first impressions are made on the basis of non-verbal signals?, so the importance of NVC is not be ignored. So, after our initial visual contact and smile what else should be taken into consideration? Another NVC that we must be conscious of appearance, Porrit (1991) says, ?While appearance may provide useful clues for health professionals to follow up, remember that can't judge a book by its cover'? and goes on to add, aware of assumptions you are making and of how these may affect the interaction?. [...]

[...] Our tone of voice, position of ourselves in accordance with the patient, vocabulary used, appearance etc., put these into the circumstance they are used and they will be vital in our evaluations to increase self-awareness. Ask colleagues to monitor your interpersonal skills whilst communicating with a patient and feed back to you. Someone watching from the outside will have a different perspective on the interaction and comments from this observation could be useful. Try to put yourself in the other person's shoes and be truthful in the appraisal of your work. [...]

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