Most Critical Skill Healthcare Workers Need to Improve
Developing interpersonal skills is perhaps one the most important qualifications for healthcare workers. Interpersonal skills, such as showing empathy or listening and taking time to explain recommendations typically influences the likelihood for a patient to follow through on care plans and even has the potential to successfully manage a chronic condition. The patient-to-caregiver’s communication and relationship directly affects the ability to provide the care your patients need. Understanding your patients’ verbal and nonverbal communication will be the foundation of patient care.
There are many different types of interpersonal skills making it challenging for a new health professional to be proficient in all types. However, there is one particular skill that has been highly recommended by healthcare employees for new employees to focus on improving. “Active listening” is one of the top communication skills newly certificated healthcare workers and professionals need to improve upon.
Listening and hearing are two very different concepts. Many people hear what people are saying without taking the time to develop genuine understanding and typically jump to a conclusion that may or may not be accurate. In the healthcare industry, jumping to conclusions without active listening and understanding your clients is dangerous. Active listening has become a skill that many people work hard to improve because it ensures accuracy to solve problems and foster understanding. “Active listening” can be defined as: the ability to focus completely on a speaker, understand the message, comprehend the information, and respond thoughtfully.
Passive hearing becomes active listening when the receiver of the message remains ready to serve or take action. Similar to a soldier standing “at attention” which communicates respect and purpose. An active listener wants to show the speaker they are prepared to find a resolution to the problems presented. Active listening gives undivided attention to the speaker and increases the likelihood of remembering more details.
Practice the Skill
The best way to practice active listening is to start developing a few new habits such as:
- Eye contact
- Do not interrupt
- Ask questions (to ensure understanding)
- Provide feedback (verbal and non-verbal)
- Summarizing/repeating back
- Respond Appropriately
Start using active listening skills today to become a better employee which will in turn improve your workplace productivity, and foster strong relationships.