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10 Essential Nurse Communication Skills for Success

nurse communication skillsBy Melissa Mills, RN, BSN, CCM, MHA

Nurse communication skills are one of the most important components for career success. 

As a nurse, you are constantly communicating with colleagues as well as patients and their families.   

In addition, you provide nurse-to-nurse communication in the form of reports. This and other written nurse communication may be reviewed by others for accuracy, safety and even legal issues. 

Because of this, possessing good nurse communication skills is extremely important. 

Below are 10 nurse communication skills you need to develop a successful career. 

[Want to sharpen your skills? When you take a travel nursing job with NurseChoice, you get access to free CEUs and more perks.

10 Nurse Communication Skills for Success

1. Non-Verbal Communication

 You can communicate a powerful message without saying a word. Non-verbal nurse communication skills include making eye contact and controlling the tone of your voice.

Appropriate body language, posture, and simply adding a smile can go a long way in nurse communication with both patients and colleagues.   

2. Active Listening

 Listen to understand; not solely to respond—this is one of the best principles for active listening. 

When speaking to a colleague or patient, lean forward and nod your head to let them know you are engaged. Maintain eye contact. 

Carry your body in a relaxed posture; do not cross your arms. (READ: 10 Characteristics of Nurses Who are Most Successful)

3. Personal Relationships

With practice, you can learn to show care, compassion, and kindness while obtaining and providing information to patients. 

You must be able to demonstrate a level of interest in the collaborative relationship. This will help the patient feel accepted and build their trust in you.

4. Inspire Trust

Always keep your word. Never make promises you may not be able to keep. When you are with a patient, be present. 

Listen to your patients and take all their complaints or concerns seriously.

5. Show Compassion

Treat patients with respect and dignity. Being in the hospital can be scary. 

Patients may feel depressed, helpless or even frightened. Put yourself in the shoes of your patient. Doing so will help you convey empathy while using your nurse communication skills.

6. Cultural Awareness

 Every patient is unique. They may come from different countries, cultures or religions. 

Common practices and gestures are not accepted by all cultures. Consider your actions and strive for cultural awareness every time you communicate with a patient. 

7. Educating Patients

This nurse communication skill is at the heart of nursing. You must be able to explain disease processes, medications, and self-care techniques to patients and their families. 

Break down medical jargon into simple terms. Education should be collaborative. Ask patients questions and use teach-back techniques when possible.

8. Written Communication

This is essential for nurse-to-nurse communication. Always ensure your written communication is concise and easy to understand. 

Write in complete sentences that are grammatically correct. Only use approved abbreviations and terminology that is universal.

9. Presentation Skills

Nurses in leadership positions are not the only ones who need this skill. You may be asked to present to nurses or other staff members on a small or large scale. 

Plan your message. Create pleasing visual aids that add value to the presentation. Know your audience and understand what they want from your presentation.

10. Verbal Communication

Verbal nurse communication skills are of the utmost importance. Always consider your audience. 

Speak in clear, complete sentences and consider your tone when speaking.

Nurse communication skills are indispensable to your success as a nurse, and with practice, you can become a nurse communication expert!

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