This concept was first introduced to me while working in the healthcare industry as an Emergency Room Registered Nurse (RN). Hearing and relaying critical information is something that we do many times throughout the day, often times in a life or death situation.

Clear and concise communication between the patient and medical staff, as well as between doctors and nurses is imperative to positive patient outcomes, and decreases frustrations felt by staff who are providing direct patient care.

This communication method was drilled into my head while I was in school and became second nature to me as I began my journey as an RN. The more I used this at work, the more I began using it in other aspects of my life. I realized that I was becoming less and less frustrated with the people who I would often times have misunderstanding with, like family members and friends. Over time, I was able to determine that it was due to the fact that I was communicating better with those people, ultimately allowing information to be transferred and received in the way it was intended.

Hospital staff use this technique whenever discharging a patient from the hospital to home. It is very important that they understand their discharge instructions for things like appropriate prescription use, limitations for things like movement and lifting, and walker/crutches use. This is a basic chart displaying how a clinician “closes the loop” while attempting to teach a patient new information:

closing the loop.jpg

This way the clinician knows that the patient truly understands the information and the patient will be discharged home with an accurate interpretation of the instructions. This basic communication tool will lead the patients to have safer recoveries at home and fewer repeat hospital visits.

This style of interacting can be simplified to three basic steps between the sender and the receiver, as shown in the diagram below:

Closed Loop Communication-01.png

This Communication style is a method I prefer as a member of the Coria Business Analyst team to ensure that I am understanding all of the new information being introduced to me. If we are working on a project together, you will be seeing this style while we interact. I am going to listen to what you say, ask you to clarify anything I don’t understand, repeat back the information the way I interpreted it, and allow you to verify that my interpretation of your message is accurate. If a correction is needed, the process will need to start over. It can be repetitive and a little annoying, but worth it because it prevents misunderstandings.

This method also helps to deescalate an extremely frustrated person. By repeating back what they say to you the person feels “heard”. In my experience, this is the fastest way to calm someone down when they are starting to act out of control. Their behavior is mainly due to the fact that they believe no one cares about what they are saying. Proving to someone that you heard them is a big deal, not only with patients in an ER, but with everyone you interact with.

Coworkers and clients all have the same basic need to be heard, regardless of your industry. If you are interacting with a team member who is unhappy with something you are doing, you should ask them to identify what the problem is, then paraphrase what they said to prove your understanding of their information, and allow them to give feedback to clarify their thoughts more. This will help to maintain a climate where people can trust that information is being transmitted from one another appropriately and in a direct manner. As a team, we should all practice direct communication to keep a positive and upbeat work environment.


Tips to Remember as a Listener:

  • Pay attention
    • Give the person speaking your undivided attention; acknowledge the message, recognize what is NOT said is also a part of the message.
      • make eye contact with the person speaking
      • Put aside distracting thoughts and avoid distraction from environmental factors
      • “listen” to body language
      • Refrain from side conversations when in a group setting
  • Feedback questions:
    • Use paraphrasing – to reflect what has been said. “Sounds like you are saying…”and “What I’m hearing is…”
    • Summarize the speaker’s comments occasionally

Tips to Remember While Dealing with an Upset Person:

  • Listen Actively, making eye contact
  • Try paraphrasing; “What I’m hearing is that you’re…”
  • Clarify situation particulars and the desired outcome
  • Summarize your understanding of the situation and what you intend to do
  • Confirm your understanding and suggested solution
  • Follow up! Send an email after the discussion to summarize the agreement