Susan LaRocco, dean of Mount Saint Mary College’s School of Nursing, recently presented a live webinar for the American Nurses Association Early Career Series titled “How to Ace Difficult Conversations with Patients, Families, and Co-workers.”
The talk was viewed by nearly 6,000 people.
Everyone engages in difficult conversations from time to time, where they may feel uncomfortable or fearful of the outcome. For healthcare professionals, these kinds of conversations may need to happen on a daily basis. For example, patients and their families may feel “anger at perceived lack of care or long wait times for care,” LaRocco explained. And like any workplace, there may be issues between co-workers.
Nevertheless, there are clear reasons to learn how to have such conversations, LaRocco notes. These include patient safety and satisfaction, improving the professional working environment, decreasing stress and burnout, and professional growth.
In any difficult conversation, said LaRocco, it’s important to do the following:
• Use clear concise language
• Do not interrupt
• If you are interrupted, calmly say “please let me finish”
• Listen to the other party rather than plan what you will say next
Following these guidelines can help make a challenging conversation easier. And once the discussion has ended, LaRocco added, remember to keep it confidential.