Knowing how to communicate effectively is an important requirement for excelling in phlebotomist jobs. Actually, improving your communication skills will enhance nearly every part of your life, including your personal and professional relationships.
What exactly is communication? Communication is the exchange of information, ideas, or feelings. The "exchange" portion of this definition is very important, because it establishes that communication is a dual process of listening and responding. Good relationships with patients, colleagues, and employers are built when communication is balanced and effective, that is, when the parties listen, understand, and respond to each other in positive ways.
The first step in becoming a good communicator is to become a good listener. Being a good listener begins with giving the speaker your complete and undivided attention. Maintaining eye contact, making verbal or non-verbal signals of understanding, and occasionally smiling at the speaker are excellent ways of showing that you are listening with interest. You can apply these techniques in group settings, such as in the classroom, or in one-on-one settings, such as during a job interview or when greeting a phlebotomy patient.
A second technique in developing your listening skills is to repeat what the speaker already stated using your own words. This technique has two important benefits: (1) it proves that you actually heard what was said and (2) it nearly always sparks a positive connection between you and the speaker because most people react positively to being listened to and understood. Naturally, this communication strategy is best suited for one-on-one or small group situations.
The next step in good communication is interaction. Interaction helps support an actual exchange of information. The best way to encourage interaction is through asking questions. Asking people questions about themselves is a great way of initiating a conversation, but be sure to ask questions that don't have an easy yes or no answer. Asking phlebotomy patients questions, listening to their answers, and posing more questions is a wonderful technique for putting them at ease and building their confidence in you.
A good communicator recognizes that some topics are best avoided in the workplace or while communicating with patients. Controversial subjects such as politics, religion, or gossip are definitely inappropriate in the phlebotomy workplace. Further, while as a healthcare professional you will need to ask questions about your patients' health, you will want to refrain from discussing your own health-related issues or concerns.
Don't forget that non-verbal communication can be as important as verbal communication. Eye contact, smiling, and an occasional light touch on the arm or shoulder are proven ways of establishing and reinforcing positive connections with your patients and your coworkers.