9.4 Self-Reflection in Interprofessional Communication

Learning Objectives

  • Examine the role of self-reflection in interprofessional communication.

You are responsible for your communication, actions, and behaviours in a professional workplace setting. You should begin by engaging in the practice of self-reflection. Start by thinking about your values concerning communication. What factors do you believe are essential in shaping how you communicate effectively? How do you speak with others? What bothers you or empowers you within a communication encounter? What are your strengths when communicating with another person? What are some areas for improvement in your communication? Consider how your strengths and barriers may influence a communication encounter. For example, how do barriers influence your capacity to engage in communication and your capacity to deliver and receive a message?

Your communication barriers may be very personal and developed as a child. Reflect on the following questions:

  • Do you rely on informal speaking patterns, such as slang, colloquialisms, and abbreviations (e.g., “What’s the bottom line?” or “Come again?”)?
  • Do you engage in excessively using first-person pronouns or delaying expressions (e.g., “I think that maybe, well, I wonder if the person needs to be assisted, you know?”)?
  • Do you get nervous when speaking to another person or in a group? If so, how does that affect your communication? Do you avoid talking or stumble over your words? Do you avoid eye contact?
  • Do you speak quietly to the extent that others have difficulty hearing you?
  • Do you have communication quirks such as saying “like” or “umm” a lot?
  • Do you become distracted quickly and lose your point when talking?
  • Do you lack focus, go on an unrelated tangent, and talk too much?
  • Do you rely on jargon-words or expressions used by a particular profession or group that are difficult for others to understand.?
  • Do your emotions influence your capacity to engage in communication effectively?
  • Are there any cultural differences that might affect your communication with another person?
  • Do you feel you lack credibility?
  • How do you feel about speaking up on issues you are concerned about when people around you do not share the same view?
  • Are you comfortable seeking a resolution with another individual that has authority or power?

Next, reflect on the professional values of communication and what you strive to achieve. You may consider these in the context of health studies students within your chosen professional practice area and what is expected of you. For example, professional competencies often involve being a communicator, an advocate, a collaborator, and a leader (College of Nurses of Ontario [CNO], 2018). Each role will require you to communicate and use various strategies, including conflict resolution, to “create and maintain professional relationships” (CNO, 2018, p. 6).

Some of your communication barriers may be related to your professional capacity. Reflect on the following points:

  1. Practice positive self-talk. Healthcare professionals are often hyper-aware of their errors and assume our colleagues are as well. Consider what contributes to your self-perception as a professional — what is realistic and what is exaggerated?
  2. Ensure consistency in verbal and nonverbal communication — reflect on how your nonverbal reactions correspond with the interprofessional context and the verbal communication. Do your thoughts pervade your actions and get inadvertently communicated to others?
  3. When possible, start by speaking with the colleague with whom you are in conflict. Gossip and rumours often begin with the compulsion to share. Are you more likely to talk to someone directly or talk to others about a problem? Use “I” statements when possible. These statements require you to express what you think or feel instead of simply projecting on a colleague or (mis) identifying their motives/behaviours.

Key Takeaways

  • Awareness of one’s communication styles and values helps facilitate interprofessional communication.


  1. What do you see as collaborative behaviour within an interprofessional encounter? How can you be confident that other individuals clearly understand your communication in a teamwork setting (especially those who have a different training background)? How can you help others understand your role?
  2. Think of a situation in which you were able to respond assertively and nonassertively to someone in a professional environment. What factors aided or hindered your ability to be assertive?


Attribution Statement

Content adapted, with editorial changes, from:​

Lapum, J., St.-Amant, O., Hughes, M., Garmaise-Yee, J.,  & Lee, C. (2020). Professional communication in health professions [Adapted]. Toronto Metropolitan University Pressbooks. https://pressbooks.nscc.ca/healthcommunication/

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Professional Communication Skills for Health Studies Copyright © 2023 by Chute, A., Johnston, S., & Pawliuk, B. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book