Positive coworker relationships to improve communication

Nurse Leader Insider, October 12, 2007

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Maintaining solid communication among coworkers is essential to any work environment. But when that line of communication breaks down and conflict ensues, confronting the discord is an important step in upholding positive relationships and avoiding paying grim costs.

As a means to improving communication, Catherine Witsberger, MSN, RN-BC, nurse educator at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), has been working with various nursing units and offering unit-based sessions. The mandatory classes consist of two, four-hour-long sessions and have been effective at improving personal and group relationships within the hospital. Each staff member, at every level, was required to take part in the sessions.

Most staff members said that physician-nurse communication was most lacking, says Schebeeka Croft, RN, who took part in the program.

The first session contained discussion about the principles of positive coworker relationships, as developed by Wendy Leebov in her book Working Together for Professionals in Health Care.

Additionally, during the first session, participants discussed communication styles and how coworkers tended to interact with each other. Two main questions that participants pondered were:

1. How honest is the communication?

2. How considerate is the communication?

When the second session got under way, participants focused on the importance of building a common mission. The second session also helped staff members learn how to resolve conflicts.

"It allowed us to understand where everyone was coming from," says Croft. "We saw how to make other people's jobs easier and took the time for understanding. I thought it was great because it brought us together."

For tips on how to create your own program, click here.

Editor's Note: This excerpt was adapted from the article, "You've got a friend in me" featured in the Reading Room on HCPro's new online resource center,!

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