I want to tell about a conversation I had during the week with a patient.
Me: “I need you to go to the toilet, empty your bladder, and come back please.”
Him: “Should I come back naked?”
Me: “No, you just go to the toilet and empty your bladder.”
Him: “So I go to the toilet?”
Me: “Yes please.”
And so he went to the toilet. A few minutes later he came back with a glass in him hand… a water glass from our kitchen, and gave me his urine sample very proudly. I have no idea how he got the glass, and he had no idea that I only wanted his bladder empty.
What is communication
That is why communication is so important. The Oxford Dictionary defines communication as “The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium”.
Communication can be divided into verbal and non-verbal communication, and the tone of your voice and body language also play a role in conveying a message.
It is very easy for the message to get lost between the sender and receiver, and I think every health care worker has a story about a patient putting the hospital gown on backwards, or taking off all clothes unnecessarily.
Some other communication mishaps
We work in a hospital where we get patients from all over the country and even the continent. Having more than 10 official languages and being able to speak only in 2, the big language barrier sometimes prevents the correct message getting over. Our cultures also differ a lot, making great communication a struggle.
Quite often it happens when you ask someone to get on the bed they climb on the bed, standing on their hands and knees on the bed, not always able to turn around on the very narrow bed to lie down.
I am going to tell a story that did not happen to me, it got to me via the grapevine. How it happened exactly I am not sure, but this is the way I heard it.
As students we worked in a small but busy department. At rush hour a colleague called a patient from the waiting area, asking him very briefly to go in the changing room and put on the gown that is hanging there. After a few minutes he came out wearing the dress of a lady that went in just before him. Although it makes a funny story, I feel very sorry for the patient, just following orders as he understood it.
Communication plays a big role in our everyday life and entails so much more that what we say. Keep instructions clear and simple, short and to the point. Don’t always assume the receiver understood everything you said.