Comms Lab: Episode 7
Respond to Emotion by Naming It.
Working in healthcare would be hard enough, even if all we had to do was diagnose and treat injuries and illness.
But the reality is far more complex.
And the most significant complicating factor?
Human emotion is layered into everything, so our ability to respond to it is a key determinant of success in any challenging interaction, whether it’s with a patient, family member or a colleague.
The NURSE acronym represents a series of well-studied skills for responding to emotion – a valuable toolkit for empathy.
In this video, we dive into the first of these skills: Naming the emotion and Normalising for the Population
It can seem basic, but it’s incredibly powerful.
There’s also some important pitfalls to avoid.
We’ll start with the basics and gradually add nuance so that by the end, you’ll have a reliable and sophisticated tool for the de-escalation of emotion and aggression in others.
0:00 – The Elephant
0:18 – Naming the Emotion: The Basics
0:57 – We can never know for sure…
2:19 – Increasing the safety buffer
3:25 – Agree or disagree – It doesn’t matter.
NURSE acronym **
|Name the Emotion; Normalising for the Population||“It seems like this whole situation has left you feeling pretty frustrated.”|
|Understand the Driver (Behind the Emotion)||“You’ve been through a huge ordeal today. I can only imagine it must have been incredibly scary for you.”|
|Respect, Praise, and Appreciation||“You’ve done an amazing job looking after your Mum. It can’t have been easy.”|
|Supportive Statements||“I’m here to look after you. It’s really important to me that we relieve your pain as best we can.”|
|Explore the Story||“What was that like? Tell me more.”|
** There are many iterations of the NURSE acronym with alternative wordings, depending on your source, though they all generally refer to the same skills. I intentionally take “the patient” out of the wording of the skills as I see the elements as broadly generalizable skills for responding to emotion, even outside the clinical context.
- Smith RC, Hoppe RB. The patient’s story: integrating the patient- and physician-centered approaches to interviewing. Ann Intern Med. 1991 Sep 15;115(6):470-7 [NURS]
- Fischer G, Tulsky J, Arnold R. Communicating a poor prognosis. In: Portenoy R, Bruera E (eds): Topics in Palliative Care Volume 4. Oxford University Press, 2000: 75-94.
- Back A, Arnold R, Tulsky J. Talking about serious news. In: Mastering communication with seriously ill patients: balancing honesty with empathy and hope. Cambridge University Press; 2009: 27
- Voss C. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It. 2016
- Comms Lab with Hayden Richards on YouTube
- Sunday Synapse Newsletter
A path to highly effective communication skills
Hayden is an emergency physician at University Hospital Geelong and a senior lecturer at Deakin University, Geelong. He is somewhat obsessed with the science and art of effective communication, and in particular: difficult conversations. He believes that we can all get better at having difficult conversations, and that the process of learning to do so can be seriously fun.
Hayden is also an avid but terrible surfer, ad hoc gardener, and dad to two awesome kids.