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Do you have any advice that can help new nurse managers improve communication and develop relationships with staff?

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Communication is an interpersonal process, which means that becoming an effective communicator is not simply watching your language and cleaning up your delivery, it is also a matter of improving the manner in which you relate to people. One of the most important steps to becoming a good communicator is developing an awareness of your own limitations and issues as a communicator. The following tips can help you address your communication limitations and strengthen relationships with staff:

  • Pay attention to how much or how little you hear of what people say. For example, do you tend to tune people out if they strike you the wrong way? How about if they are different from you?
  • Notice how often you make judgments about others in the early stages of communication. As you move further in your awareness process, think about your assumptions each time you make a decision or give instructions that are going to affect other people.
  • Take careful notes of the problems staff come to you with and think about the nature of them. Are they clinical or technical or do they involve misunderstandings between individuals and groups? Evaluate how many questions staff asked that were technical or clinical in nature and how many involved interpersonal relationship issues somewhere in your unit or facility on a daily or weekly basis.

—Patrick R. Coonan, EdD, RN, CNAA