UNDERSTANDING THE MEANING OF COMMUNICATION
Few messages in social and therapeutic communication have only one level of meaning; messages often contain more meaning than just the spoken words (DeVito, 2008). The nurse must try to discover all the meaning in the cli-ent’s communication. For example, the client with depres-sion might say, “I’m so tired that I just can’t go on.” If the nurse considers only the literal meaning of the words, he or she might assume the client is experiencing the fatigue that often accompanies depression. However, statements such as the previous example often mean the client wishes to die. The nurse would need to further assess the client’sstatement to determine whether or not the client is suicidal.
It is sometimes easier for clients to act out their emo-tions than to organize their thoughts and feelings into words to describe feelings and needs. For example, people who outwardly appear dominating and strong and often manipulate and criticize others in reality may have low self-esteem and feel insecure. They do not verbalize their true feelings but act them out in behavior toward others. Insecurity and low self-esteem often translate into jealousy and mistrust of others and attempts to feel more important and strong by dominating or criticizing them.