Chapter 5: Actions you can take

What to say, what not to say

When a paramedic chooses to share feelings or thoughts about a difficult call, the following suggestions will help to keep communication open. In general, avoid using phrases such as "could have" or "should have". Unless asked, refrain from giving advice.

  • Listen respectfully.

  • Encourage more sharing with humbly curious and concrete questions.
  • Avoid asking for sensational details. 

  • Make gentle eye contact.

  • Don’t interrupt or express opinions.
  • Don’t talk about yourself or change the subject.

  • Avoid saying what they could have said or done differently.

  • Avoid commenting on what their partner, the family, or patient should have done.

  • Avoid expressing opinions. This is likely to be heard as a form of judgement, suggesting that you think they don't know how to do their job or manage their life.

Conversation Prompts

Do you want to talk more about that?

That must have been very difficult.

I appreciate you trusting me with these stories and your feelings.

I want you to know that I'm here for you but I want to ensure we have enough time to really talk.

What not to say

Maybe you’re in the wrong job.

I don’t know how you do your job.

I can’t listen to you any more.

Your job is just crazy.

The next page helps you establish boundaries about what you are comfortable hearing.