Often in the palliative care setting, my colleagues and I wear multiple hats from the Nurse to the Social Worker and other mediators when communicating with families and patients. The style that reflects me most would be a feeler. I am often faced with answering difficult questions on a patient’s illness trajectory and trying to explain to families what a specific change in their loved ones condition means in the bigger picture. Many family members need time to express their thoughts and feelings and often guilt as they feel they did not do enough. I love spending the extra time with these families so they have the opportunity to share stories and memories of their loved one as it provides a little more insight into their relationship and how we can add a personal touch during our time together.

Recently I met with a patient who has 2 children, all of them quite accomplished and could be classified as doers and thinkers. They sit at the beside with their laptops and conduct meetings and video calls as I am in and out of the room all shift taking care of their mother. Her condition has declined rapidly and we were making multiple medication changes every few hours. In order to carefully explain what was happening, they needed to write down every new medication and what symptom it was treating, and how long it would take to work and at what point would be evaluate if it was working. They were very methodical and appreciative of the transparency we would provide in how we were planning on keeping their mother comfortable. They wrote down Plan A – C for monitoring her pain and restlessness and understood that some medications would be more sedating than others, but as long as she was peaceful, that was the end goal.

In the bigger picture, we all tap into each style depending on what we are trying to accomplish in our roles each day.