When working with patients and students, good communication is essential for building strong relationships and establishing rapport, as well as contributing to the successful outcome of each individual’s care. Active listening is one of the most important skills needed to be an effective communicator with your new and expectant moms.
So, how exactly can you practice active listening with your patients and students? Follow our tips below.
- Make appropriate eye contact while listening. Maintaining eye contact will help you to better focus on the conversation and not get distracted. It will also show the speaker that you’re paying attention. If eye contact is not reciprocated, understand there can be various reasons for this but still maintain your gaze.
- Be attentive, be present, and offer your undivided attention. If you catch your mind wandering, bring your focus back to the person in front of you and her specific needs and concerns.
- Provide regular feedback, either verbally or non-verbally, to show you’re listening and that you understand her issues.
- Only ask questions to ensure clarity. Otherwise, questions can sometimes cause the person to go in a completely different direction, neglecting what she originally intended to communicate.
- If a question you ask leads your patient off-topic, do your part to get the conversation back on track.
- Every now and then, repeat the facts back to make sure you’ve correctly understood what’s been said and to assure her you care about and were paying attention to what she had to say.
- Observe any nonverbal cues. A lot of important information can be gleaned from what isn’t said. What’s spoken only gives you part of the story.
When you listen actively, you’re able to perceive both verbal and non-verbal messages that can lead you to critical details you may have otherwise missed. Active listening can help you more accurately assess the unique situation and issues of your patients and students, improving the overall level of care you provide.