Building rapport with our patients

Last week I attended a conference on leadership in nursing. As a nurse not currently in a leadership position, I felt a little out of place. The early part of the conference focused on things like engagement surveys and other data points that Press Gainey uses to come up with patient and nurse satisfaction, basically, a lot of things that sort of went over my head. I saw lots of the nurse managers nodding and discussing. I’ll pass. I am not really someone that is big into data points and graphs.

One of the speakers from the second half of the conference shared information that really stuck with me. His presentation focused on building rapport with people, especially our patients. He began by talking about active listening and why we suck at it. According to information he presented, the average person speaks 125 words a minute. That blew my mind! 125 words seems like so much! He presented another point: our minds think far faster than that, that is why we suck at active listening. Our brains are moving too fast and we get to a point where we are no longer listening to understand, we are listening to respond. Makes sense, right?

He instead told us to listen for three things from the patient you are speaking to:

  1. Values- what in this conversation is most important to the individual?
  2. Hopes- what does the individual hope to gain from this conversation?
  3. Fears- what, if anything, is the individual afraid of?

Being able to touch on those three things in a convo with a patient can make them feel much more at ease. This shows the patient you were actively listening to what they had to say and that you were actually engaged in the conversation. That is the feeling I strive to give to my patients. I want my patients to feel like I care when we are talking. Sometimes, all a “difficult” patient needs is someone to take the time to listen to their concerns. Whenever I can, I try to be that person.

13 thoughts on “Building rapport with our patients

  1. Glad you got something valuable out of the conference. Communication with the patient and really listening to the patient is key. You’ve got it! Unfortunately, mangers are required to deal with surveys, evaluations, time sheets, shift schedules, and other data points. That part of management time consuming, and too much time away from the nurses. Balancing all of that was a challenge fo me as a nurse manage. Christine


  2. And this is the difference between a manager and a leader Fred 😊 You might not feel like a leader, but you are! Because you don’t care about numbers and graphs or how to run the show. You want to be that great communicator for your patients.
    Every nurse must be a leader, because we all need to get our patients on board with us to follow the plans we have for them (if that makes sense).
    A leader is someone who encourages others to be their best self. To achieve more from the inspiration you have given them. I’d say you were a great leader 🙂 just from the way you Blog and talk about work life things.


  3. I feel this post. It can be a hard balance though, with all of my other duties. I work in a progressive care unit, so my patients are often really sick, and with it enough to realize how sick they are, and they need a lot of attention/compassion. I’m often mentioned in those surveys when the hospital calls after discharge to ask about their care, but I’m also almost always staying after my shift an hour or so to make sure my charting is done since I sit my ass down in the room and talk to the patient and family for as long as they need.


  4. CERTIFIABLEdiaryofanursewithnofilter

    💯 agree with all of this!! On my unit I am notorious for taking on the “difficult” families and patients and find out that its ALWAYS a communication issue or lack thereof… I also find opportunities when possible to give the patient options or choices when possible and families chances to help be involved in hands-on care and it seems to give them a sense of empowerment and involvement and we always have great rapport as a result. Ironically so many nurses these days prioritize charting before doing ANY patient care and avoid conversing with patients and their families like it’s their job . I do all my patient care , bond with them and the families and only chart when I have literally nothing else to do…. 😂


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