Comms Lab: Supportive Statements

Comms Lab: Episode 10

What is a Supportive Statement, and Why is it the Only Thing That Helps Sometimes?

We all have our go-to strategy for defusing strong emotion, but from time to time… it doesn’t work.

That’s why, in my emergency department work, I’ve found it so valuable to have more than just one tool in my emotional skills toolkit.

The use of supportive statements is a skill that I’ve added recently, and I’ve found it incredibly useful particularly in one specific situation where nothing else seems to work.

This is the fourth video of a series on “NURSE“, a set of well-studied tools for responding to emotion.

In this video, I discuss exactly what that situation is, and why I think supportive statements are your best bet to rapidly calm and win the trust of the other person involved.

Thanks for watching:)

0:00 – Mystery emotions
0:35 – What lies beneath…
1:27 – What does this person need?
1:43 – The answer, and a definition…
2:00 – Sometimes, a person just needs to hear, “… “
2:48 – Unless you’re a psychopath, or a fully enlightened being…


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.




Cite this article as: Hayden Richards, "Comms Lab: Supportive Statements," In: LITFL - Life in the FastLane, Accessed on October 5, 2022, https://litfl.com/comms-lab-supportive-statements/.

Comms Lab

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.

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