2 female nurses discussing important info

Professional communication is an essential element of nursing. When we communicate professionally we reduce the risk of missing important information, making errors, or even of harming a patient.

What is professional communication?

“Professional communication refers to the various forms of speaking, listening, writing, and responding carried out both in and beyond the workplace, whether in person or electronically” (Goodall, H., Goodall, S., & Schiefelbein, J. 2010). It considers non-verbal communication and body language in addition to written communication.

Professional communication does not happen by chance. Rather, it is a skill that requires Emotional Intelligence (EI), also known as Emotional Quotient (EQ). According to Cherry (2015), EQ is “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically" (Cherry, 2015). Originally known as social intelligence, EQ was first introduced in the 1930’s (Cherry, 2015).

How EQ Skills Can Improve Communication

Let’s be honest. Committing yourself to communicate professionally is not necessarily going to be easy but, before you say what you’re about to say, stop! Take a moment to assess how you feel. Are you angry or frustrated?

Now, consider what you are about to say and the way in which you plan to deliver your message. Is the intent to hurt, belittle or intimidate your listener? Would you want someone to speak to you the way you are about speak?

For just for a moment, think about the message your body is sending. Are you pacing around, bouncing back and forth or are trying to speak over your listener? Is your anger noticeable? Finally, look around. Are you having your conversation with the appropriate audience present? In other words, does everyone within earshot need to know what you are about to say?

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Before they speak, nurses who have developed their EQ are able to mentally take a moment and step back. They assess the emotions they are feeling and identify how they are contributing to the conversation. They think before they speak and are mindful of how their message will be interpreted. They also understand that their body language is as vital to their professional communication as is their verbal or written communication (Cherry, 2015).

Now that you understand the basics of professional communication and EQ and what they look like in action ─ how can you get there? It starts with awareness. Be mindful of your emotions and pay attention to how you communicate (verbally and nonverbally). There are a variety of emotional intelligence tests you can take to identify your current level of EQ. Click here to begin your journey and take an Emotional Intelligence Test.

To learn more about Professional Communication, consider taking the 3 contact hour course, “Professional Communication: Speak Up, Speak Well” at RN.com.

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