What is communication?
Communication is the key to effective teamwork and the delivery of safe patient care. Communication can be defined as ‘a two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange information but also create and share meaning’ (ACT Academy). Communication failures are commonly the cause of inadvertent patient harm.
Types of communication
Within our teams communication is a means by which tasks are accomplished by coordination, issuing instructions, stating intentions and by the sending and receiving of information.
Communication can be divided into four components:
What – information to be communicated
How – how you are going to communicate
Why – why you are communicating this
Who – who you are communicating with.
There are many different types of communication that we use everyday.
- Nonverbal – our facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures and eye contact helps us convey emotion and reinforce our verbal communication. Occasionally however, this can be open to misunderstanding, for example when communicating with someone from a different culture.
The best form of information transfer occurs during face-to-face conversation. This allows both verbal and nonverbal communication to take place. This form of communication is especially important for expressing concerns, complaints and finding resolutions to conflicts.
- Writing an email, requesting an investigation or documenting in patient notes is an essential part of patient care
- It is important that this form of communication is clear, legible, precise and informative as otherwise the information can be open to misinterpretation.