Assertive Communication (Nursing)

by Christy Hennessey (Davidson), DNP, RNC-OB

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    00:00 Welcome back everyone. We're continuing our conversation about communication. As a new nurse, can you imagine going on to your unit and feeling a little unsure about how to speak to others? Well today, we're going to be talking about a technique that's really going to help and that is assertive communication. Assertive communication means expressing your point of view in a way that is clear and direct while still respecting others. So there are several benefits to assertiveness.

    00:29 First, it minimizes conflict when you're having a conversation with others. It does help control anger because both parties are understanding of what the conversation is about. You have your needs better met. You have more positive relationships with others. So it's important to understand the difference between aggression and assertion. With aggression, you're forcing your needs or opinions on others. Whereas with assertion, you're using clear but respectful expressions of your needs. In aggression, bullying or pushing others around occurs. Whereas with assertion, you're having respectful treatment of others because both parties are actually listening to one another and trying to come to a resolution. In aggression, only your needs matter but rather with assertion the needs of others and yours are considered in the situation. In aggression, there is no compromise. In assertion, there's often compromise, again because you're both trying to reach a common goal. Aggression damages relationships but with assertion, that strengthens relationships because trust is built between both parties because each is trying to reach the middle and understand the opinions of others. In aggression, sometimes shouting and physical aggression actually occurs whereas with assertion, you're using clear language to get your point across. And finally, aggression damages self-esteem. Whereas with assertion, it can actually build your self-esteem because you're getting your point across and you're getting your needs met. Now contrary to both aggression and assertive communication techniques, there is also passive communication. Now passive communication is the time when you're really just not speaking up or you are putting your needs last. You're also allowing yourself to be ignored. You are sometimes speaking very quietly. You're also undermining your opinions and so an example of undermining your opinions might be as a registered nurse and you're expressing to maybe another team member something that you need, you might say something along the lines of "Well only if you really want to or if you're not able to do it that's okay, I'll get it done." That's undermining your needs and your opinions. So there are some really clear assertive communication techniques that are very helpful. First, state your point of view or request clearly. Tell the other person how you feel as honestly as you can and remember to listen to what they say as well. Think about your tone and the volume of your voice. How you say it is as important as what you say. Make sure your body language matches. Your listener might get mixed messages if you're speaking firmly while looking at the floor. Try to avoid exaggerating with words such as always or never. Life and situations are fluid and that's not sometimes the case. Try to speak with facts rather than judgments. And finally, use "I statements" as much as possible to tell the other person how you feel rather than to be accusing. So for example, instead of saying something like "You really hurt my feelings." You could say "You know, that really made me feel uncomfortable when you criticize me in front of a patient." So here's a great example. Alex is a new nurse on a busy orthopedic unit. Now he is preparing to assess a newly admitted patient when Mr. Smith calls the nurse station requesting an additional pillow. Alex turns to the unlicensed assistive personnel and asked quietly "I know you're really busy but if you don't mind would you take Mr. Smith another pillow? If you're too busy, I'll take care of it when I can." Which communication style was Alex using? Was Alex using aggressive communication style, an assertive communication style, or was it passive? Alex was using passive because he did not clearly state what he needed to the unlicensed assistive personnel when as a registered nurse he'd evaluated the situation, he knew that this person had the time and capacity to help when he was about to admit a very busy complicated patient.

    04:49 So remember, being assertive means taking responsibility for your own behaviors and emotions, communicating the message you need to communicate and persisting until you achieve your goal. So what do we learn today? Nurses interact with patients, colleagues, and other healthcare professionals on a daily basis and this interaction is improved when nurses have good communication skills. As an advocate for patients and for themselves, nurses must learn assertive communication techniques. And finally becoming more assertive can lead to increased respect and personal confidence. I hope you've enjoyed this video on assertive communication. Thank you so much for watching.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Assertive Communication (Nursing) by Christy Hennessey (Davidson), DNP, RNC-OB is from the course Leadership and Management (Nursing).

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Assertive
    2. Decisive
    3. Explanatory
    4. Affirmative
    1. Minimizing conflict, controlling anger, meeting needs better, and having more positive relationships
    2. Encouraging better goal setting, managing emotions, specifying end results, and improving implementation
    3. Identifying stakeholders early on, handling challenges with confidence, reducing hostilities, and enhancing the quality of solutions
    4. Reducing anxieties, managing expectations, improving brainstorming, and augmenting resolutions
    1. Aggressive
    2. Assertive
    3. Passive-aggressive
    4. Passive
    1. Putting your needs last
    2. Using compromise
    3. Feeling that only your needs matter
    4. Speaking quietly
    5. Allowing yourself to be ignored
    1. Assertive
    2. Aggressive
    3. Passive
    4. Irrational
    1. Assertive
    2. Passive
    3. Aggressive
    4. Negotiation

    Author of lecture Assertive Communication (Nursing)

     Christy Hennessey (Davidson), DNP, RNC-OB

    Christy Hennessey (Davidson), DNP, RNC-OB

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