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How to Start a Conversation with a Patient as a Nurse

When it comes to the relationship with their patient, nurses need to be very compassionate and caring as this is their primary focus. 

Communication skills are also important to help maintain a positive relationship with the patient and loved ones as well. 

There are some significant aspects of conversation with patients that nurses should be aware of. These can include what they can say and the tone they use when talking to them or a loved one.

Last but not least, nurses should always remember that in certain situations, patients may not have adequate knowledge about health-related issues, which is where nurses come in handy in terms of being able to answer any questions they may have.

Why Is It Important for Nurses to Communicate Effectively?

Learning to communicate with both patients and other staff as a nurse is one of the most important things you will learn during your studies as a nurse, your clinicals, and your future career.

Nurses need to be good at communicating, and here are a few reasons why:

  • It helps nurses gain more insight into the patient’s lifestyle, experiences, and issues. 
  • It helps the nursing staff to address some health issues that may not be addressed with other patients due to the unique nature of a patient’s condition or limited knowledge in health matters. 
  • Having an open and honest dialogue with their patients, even if it is hard, is beneficial as it can lead to a stronger relationship and trust between them, which will support them in other areas as well. 
  • The nurse can also assist patients in answering questions about more sensitive topics such as death, disabilities, aging, and serious illness which would help them ease their anxieties during this time.

Communication in a healthcare setting is very important and can be a great tool to use. 

As a nurse, you will need to be dedicated and willing to communicate with the patient and their family or friends to get the most out of it while maintaining their needs.

Even if a specific condition is not common, it is still possible for nurses to maintain an open dialog with patients about them in order for them to understand more about what’s happening with their condition, especially if there is no one else around that has adequate knowledge about it. 

Patients will have questions about their condition, fears, and anxieties when they have no one else that can answer these for them; this is where the nurse will have the opportunity to assist them in this process.

The Importance of Building Rapport

The nurse must be able to identify issues and respond with empathy in a sensitive yet firm way. 

At all costs, the nurse should not allow this patient’s fear of being ignored to get the better of them. The patient needs to feel that they are heard, and the nurse should try their best to make this happen.

Being able to achieve a good rapport with patients will help the nurse in getting information from them. 

The first thing that must be done is for the nurse to identify what types of communication will be most efficient in managing situations in the healthcare setting. 

Some of these may include verbal communication and non-verbal communication, as well as written forms of communication such as charts and instructions.

Verbal Communication

When communicating verbally, nurses should pay careful attention to how they word their statements when talking with patients. 

This will show the patient that they are being heard and addressed. It is important to be direct yet subtle in their approach and not cause any unnecessary distress when talking with them. 

Also another thing to keep in mind is to allow plenty of time for the patient to process what was said and then respond instead of rushing through everything so they can move on and not forget anything.

Nurses should be careful when it comes to talking about certain topics with a patient. They should always look at their condition as well as their ability to talk about these issues before going down this route or giving them details or information on what’s happening around their health conditions.

Non-Verbal Communication

Some of the non-verbal communication techniques that a nurse can use include being in close proximity to the patient and making sure that you are looking at them directly when you’re talking with them.

You should also have a relaxed stance and posture as this will make the patient feel more relaxed too. Making eye contact with them will also show them you are serious about the task at hand as well. 

What Makes a Good Initial Question?

Nurses need to pay close attention to the emotional response of their patients as this will allow them to understand more about what’s going on with them and how they are feeling. 

If they are not responding to a question that you’ve asked, you should try rephrasing it or giving them some time before moving on further with your line of questioning. 

Just make sure that you never ask questions that have potential risk factors or are upsetting in nature when it comes to your patient’s health. 

Some common examples would include questions about their personal lives, sexuality, religion, and finances; all of these can be very sensitive issues for some people and, depending on the case, may not be appropriate for the setting at the time.

Building Effective Communication Strategies for Nurses

When nurses work together in a team, it is especially important to have some effective strategies for communicating among themselves. 

Each team member needs to be able to communicate clearly and listen carefully when it comes to their co-workers so they can understand what they are intended to do. 

This will help them in providing the best care possible through their teamwork as well. 

Working as a team will also make it easier for them to troubleshoot issues that may arise and provide the right solutions to fix these problems in a timely manner so that the patient’s quality of care is not affected. 

Learning to Handle Difficult Patients

Patients may not always be easy to deal with or talk to due to their condition or circumstance. 

However, nurses still need to be able to communicate with them and handle their situations in a professional manner. 

It is important for the nurse to understand that each patient is different, and they may not always act the way they expect them to when they’re in their care. 

Nurses should keep this in mind as it will help them when interacting with patients who are experiencing challenging health problems, such as terminally ill patients who are experiencing pain and suffering or even terminally ill patients who have lost all hope for their recovery.

What You Can Do to Improve Your Communication Skills with Patients

One of the best things you can do to improve your communication skills as a nurse is to be as observant as possible. 

This will help you in picking up on vital factors such as body language or non-verbal cues that may help you understand how patients are feeling and what they might be thinking or experiencing. 

You should also make sure you are paying careful attention to their emotional well-being and health needs and use your time wisely when talking with them or listening to their concerns, as this will allow you to spend less time trying to get relevant information from them. 

The Importance of Making a Good First Impression

As mentioned before, being able to communicate well with people is a crucial skill set for a nurse to have. 

This is especially important when dealing with patients who may be difficult or sensitive due to their situation and needs. 

If you’re able to make a good first impression on your patient, they will also trust you as their care provider and are more likely to open up and give you the information that you need. 

You should also make sure you are speaking in a clear and concise manner that is easy for them to understand. 

This will also ensure that they feel comfortable around you and trust you as their care provider. 


There are a great many skills that nurses must develop when it comes to communicating with patients. However, these top ten communication skills will give them an idea of where they’re starting from and how they can work on improving their abilities. 

Ultimately, it is up to them to do the work required in order to improve their communication skills, both verbally and non-verbally. 

As they take the time to practice and develop these skills, they will see a marked improvement in their communication with patients so that they can care for them in the best possible way. 

This approach gives them an opportunity to improve the quality of their work wherever it may be and help them become better nurses. 

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