CULTIVATING EMPATHY: Inspiring Health Professionals to Communicate More Effectively

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Dealing with Difficult People and Situations with Empathy and Care

Pp. 127-146 (20)

Kathleen Stephany


Chapter six taught us how to be empathetic when dealing with difficult people and situations. The first portion of the chapter specifically concentrated on strategies to empathize with people who are uncooperative or angry. Refraining from judging was advised and an acting out was presented as a desperate cry for help. Taking a step back when conflict does occur was also advised. The second part of the chapter focused on more effective ways to communicate care to people who are going through trying times, such as illness or dying. Care providers and patients were taught not to view sickness or death as a failure. Specific measures for communicating empathy in these circumstances were suggested. Two specific case study narratives of lived experiences were also presented. In the case in point a nursing student gained an understanding of what it is like to be stigmatized because of an addiction. An exercise on how to increase tolerance and acceptance was presented, followed by an additional teaching strategy on how to establish trust while still maintaining professional boundaries.


Acceptance, care, compassion, death, empathy, palliative care, professional boundaries, safety plan, sickness, stigmatization, tolerance, trust.


Full Time Nurse Educator in the Faculty of Health Sciences Douglas College, BC Canada Canada.