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What is Effective Communication?

This module explores the skill of deep, active listening as a healing tool in the world of hospice. Below are links to video clips, as well as readings and assignments that will help you explore the world of communication.


To begin, please read module 2 of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association's handbook, Effective_Communication_Skills20200827-8893-1nb8kk3


In the following exercise read each item and then check the number indicating how frequently you actually use this skill when talking with bothers. Remember, this is a self-assessment, so be honest!
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The Power of Listening
William Ury | TEDxSanDiego

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. William Ury explains how listening is the essential, and often overlooked, half of communication. His stories of candid conversations with presidents and business leaders provide us with impactful lessons, such as understanding the power of a human mind opening up. He asks us to join a listening revolution, and promises that if we all just listen a little bit more, we can transform any relationship.

Common Listening Misconceptions

Click HERE to read the article at the website, "AFS Consulting."

Communicating with Tact & Diplomacy, Part 4: Common Listening Misconceptions

By Doug Jordan|April 21st, 2015| AFS Consulting

We are all capable of listening effectively in different situations and to different people. Listening effectively is, however, an active process – something we have to do consciously and something that takes practice. Yet there are obstacles to our ability, or willingness, to become better listeners.
Here are some common misconceptions, or myths, about listening...

Brené Brown on Empathy


Reflective listening is responding to both the feelings and content of the speaker to show that you are attentive and understand the meaning behind what they are saying.

In this exercise, consider the response that best fits the description of ‘reflective listening’ for each of the statements.

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Being part of the care team and communicating with the person, family members and other care providers, you will learn very personal information. As a hospice palliative care volunteer, you have a responsibility to respect the person’s and family’s privacy and protect their confidentiality. You must not disclose what you have learned to anyone other than other members of the team. This rule applies to everyone on the team, and is key to creating an atmosphere of trust.


Respecting Privacy

To respect the person’s and family’s right to privacy, you do not disclose:

  • who you are caring for
  • the state of wellness of the ill person or family members
  • anything that is said to you by the person and/or family members
  • anything that you observe or overhear during your assignment
  • how the person died
  • how the family members grieve.

Respecting privacy can be particularly difficult if you live in a small community where everyone knows everyone else. Neighbours and friends of the dying person and family may know that you are a volunteer and ask you questions. In those situations, you should always suggest that they talk directly to the family.

Protecting Confidentiality

Confidentiality means “entrusted with secrets”. As a member of the care team, you may have access to other people’s personal and health information. You are required to keep all that information confidential.

Breaching of confidentiality by a volunteer is a serious breach of ethics and may result in termination.

The only time it is acceptable to break confidentiality is when there is an unacceptable risk of harm to the individual or someone else, such as:

  • a communicable disease that must be reported by law to the authorities (This is done by the nurse and/or physician.)
  • a medical condition (e.g. mental illness) that may result in personal harm or harm to others
  • reasonable suspicion of abuse.


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Congratulations (3)



You have completed Module 3: Effective Communication Skills

Click here to continue to Module 4: Family and Family Dynamics