In the know: Practice patient care with empathy

Stressed Out Nurses Weekly, March 16, 2009

An integral part of handling a patient's anger is letting the person know you understand the story, letting him or her know that you get it, or showing the person that you empathize with him or her. Recall that empathy means you recognize, perceive, and directly connect with the emotion of another. It is different from sympathy, which means you feel bad because of another person's situation. Empathy is patient-centered. Sympathy is you-centered. Make sure your responses take the patient into consideration. Keep your tone even.

In addition to those dos, make sure you avoid these empathy don'ts:

  • Don't be condescending
  • Don't pretend to understand something that doesn't make sense to you
  • Don't give unsolicited advice
  • Don't respond with a cliché that dismisses how the person feels
  • Don't jump to conclusions

Source: Stressed Out About Difficult Patients, HCPro, Inc. 2007. Be sure to pick up your copy today!


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