Introduction: Healthcare provider is an inclusive term because of the various roles we are currently seeing in healthcare such as medical doctor, physicians assistants, nurse practitioner, and nurse. Skilled communication is the first standard outlined in the American Association of Critical Care Nurses’ Standards of a Healthy Work Environment and is the common thread that links the other five standards together. Skilled communication facilitates a healthy work environment and subsequently healthy work relationships.

Tell the story: Often there are conflicts occurring in the work environment that inhibit effective communication and safe patient care practices. Conflicts are an inevitable part of the human experience—we hardwired to react in a fight or flight mode when there is a perceived threat to self. These threats to self can occur in any situation even when someone is giving feedback to us that has the potential of promoting our growth. This is exactly why it is so important to provide ‘opportunities to grow’ during situations where you are giving feedback. These conflicts often lead to poor work experiences that lead to an overall sense of dissatisfaction with work and limits engagement. The ability to manage relationships in the work environment facilitates connecting with others in meaningful ways that ultimately helps others to feel supported and understood.

Why is this so important? Well, if you are a leader/employee who wants to promote inter-disciplinary cooperation and improve communication [insert link to Blog#1] becoming your authentic self will build a level of trust between you and others in the work environment. When giving constructive feedback keep in mind the importance of:

  1. Clear communication
  2. Having a positive attitude
  3. Asking engaging questions
  4. Actively Listen
  5. Timely conflict resolution
  6. Being supportive/encouraging
  7. Keeping an open mind
  8. Being trustworthy
  9. Managing your emotions
  10. Resisting the urge to make assumptions
  11. Demonstrating compassion
  12. Empowering others to give and receive constructive feedback

When giving constructive feedback it is helpful to use an assertive communication model such as the D.E.S.C. model to minimize the threat to self for the individual receiving the feedback.

  • Describe the current state with facts only
    • Mary I noticed that you came in 20 minutes after the shift started today, yesterday, and the day before. Is there something that is preventing you from getting here on time? [Listen without interrupting]
  • Express your concern or explain
    • I am concerned that 20 minutes impacts the off-going nurse’s ability to get out on time.
  • Suggest an alternative
    • Do you have an suggestions on how you can report at the beginning of the shift
  • Consequence
    • The potential consequence here is that your colleagues will not view you as a team player and this will negatively impact your relationship with them. Based on what I know about you I know that your work relationships are important.

Poor interpersonal communication strategies lead to poor interpersonal relationships with coworkers and often lead to patient safety issues. Assertive Communication strategies such as the D.E.S.C. model, when utilized in such a way as to include the employee or coworker in the outcome decision/choices, supports healthy conflict resolution and will improve interpersonal relationships at work and give you and your colleagues a safe environment supportive of learning.