Sibley Connect June 2017: Language of Caring Update: Say It Again with HEART

Our Language of Caring skill for this month, Say it Again with HEART, is an important one because it brings together all of the Heart skills to help you communicate at times when you have to say no. Saying no can be difficult and uncomfortable, but is sometimes necessary. When it comes to saying no, keep three things in mind:

  1. You may have to say no because of a safety issue;
  2. Quality of care may be at risk, so saying no is necessary; and
  3. Sometimes you have to say no simply because the request cannot be accommodated.

Repeating the bottom line (the main message) with care and dignity, while offering an acceptable alternative when possible, can be helpful.

Remember not to lose control of the conversation. Maintain a calm approach by taking a deep breath, practicing presence, and watching your tone of voice and nonverbals. Make sure not to convey a sarcastic or negative demeanor. Here’s a tip: Try to avoid the words “but” or “however;” instead, use words like “still” or “perhaps that is so.” Never say, “calm down.” Saying that can put the other person on the defensive.

In addition, it’s a good idea to never respond to a request with any of these:

  • “I don’t know.”
  • “It’s not my job.”
  • “It’s not my fault.”

Instead, try responding to a request with this:

  • “What can I do?”

Tell us how you’ve responded to a difficult request using the Language of Caring skills by emailing your story to We’ll feature your stories in Daily Buzz to help everyone put these skills into practice.
You can practice now by viewing the example conversation included in the table below. This example outlines how a conversation could go with a patient who is requesting to go outside to smoke. Because Sibley is a smoke-free campus, the employee in this example must say “no” to the patient’s request. See how this fictional employee uses the Language of Caring skills to navigate this difficult conversation. Remember to envision practicing presence and ensuring your nonverbals are congruent with what you are saying as you read this scenario.

Here’s the example: 

Language of Caring-HEART

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