Patient Experience/Engagement – February 2017

Language of Caring Update: Positive Intent

Our mission to deliver excellence and compassionate care—every person, every time is made a reality through our behaviors, the words and tone of voice we use and the processes our patients and families experience. To follow through on this commitment, we must build a culture and create a healing environment that embraces clinical expertise combined with kindness. Respect and collegiality (being kind) are two of our core values that should drive our behaviors with one another. Every interaction is an opportunity to demonstrate this caring with our patients, families and each other.

So much of our communication consists of providing explanations and responding to common questions. Although we have good, caring intentions, we often simply explain an action or provide a quick response as an end in itself. If we provide only the information necessary, this is a “head response” and we may be perceived as perfunctory. If we are hurried or show an uncaring attitude, we fail to make our good intentions explicit and the other person doesn’t necessarily perceive the caring intention. By using the skill of positive intent, a “heart skill,” we can avoid misunderstandings, adjust expectations and relieve anxiety others may be experiencing.

Positive intent is stating the purpose of our actions and highlighting the benefit to the other person.

Action Actions using phrases with Positive Intent
Reposition a pillow I want to reposition your pillow to make you more comfortable.
Provide Directions Let me highlight the route on this map so that it is clear for you.
Scan an armband For your safety, I want to scan your armband.
Assist colleague Let me assist you so that you can get to lunch.

Remember: Our routines are not routine for others. Using the heart-head-heart response with positive intent will have a high impact on communicating our caring to others.

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