For Professionals: How to talk to your patients

When it comes to health, the messenger is as important as the message.

Research, studies and experience tell us what health information we need to focus on. But bedside manner and connection to patients can make or break a client’s committment to getting — and staying — healthy. For health care and social service providers, it’s important to focus as much on giving the message as what the message is about.

The Maryland Hospital Performance Evaluation Guide recommends tips like: Be an active listener. Build a rapport with the patient. Communicate in plain English. And make sure your message is clear and understood.

Generational Differences

A somewhat new phenomenon that is affecting relationships is generational differences. There are five living generations (G.I., Silent, Baby Boomer, Generation X and Millenial).Talking to a Millenial requires a different approach than talking to a Boomer.

A study in the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing recognizes the generational issue and developed recommendations for nurses:

  • Seek to understand each generational cohort and accommodate generational differences in attitudes, values, and behaviors.
  • Develop generationally sensitive styles to effectively coach and motivate all members of the health care team.
  • Develop the ability to flex a communication style to accommodate generational differences.
  • Promote the resolution of generational conflict so as to build effective work teams.
  • Capitalize on generational differences, using these differences to enhance the work of the entire team.