by Angela Archer, BSN
Effective communication in all areas of life is essential. Communication in words or actions is very important to our daily lives and places of work. How we communicate to others can either make or break what we are trying to convey.Effective communication in all areas of life is essential. Communication in words or actions is very important to our daily lives and places of work. How we communicate to others can either make or break what we are trying to convey.I am guilty of complaining to others by blaming and gossiping. Has this solved any problems I see in my every day professional practice? No. No one wants to listen to a squeaky wheel “squeak” all the time. I was thinking about this and my verbal communication when I confronted another co-worker about their decision to delegate the day’s work. I confronted the person for the lack of teamwork and my unhappiness about the situation. In their mind they were doing what they thought was the best for their floor. In my mind I saw the situation differently. Who was right and who was wrong? I thought about that incident over and over. What can we do as nurses to work together and not against each other as we are in this profession of nursing “together” and not separately.I am not an expert in the field of communication by no means. However, I have been an observer and participant in the area of human interactions for the past 28 years through the eyes my nursing “goggles”. How do we voice our concerns for ourselves, our co-workers or even our patients while at the same time maintaining and retaining our professional image? I have also found many nurses (including myself) don’t speak up or notify their managers or leaders of a situation or problem that needs to be addressed. We just tend to complain and then go on about our business. Some, like myself, internalize and avoid conflict or fear being disloyal, being disliked and being labeled a troublemaker. So how do we voice our concerns in a professional manner and make our matters known without blaming or complaining or keeping them boiling inside?1. Know the rules of engagement. Follow the chain of command. You can’t start at the top of the food chain and work your way down. Sorry, that idea does not fly in any institution or business. I also let it be known to whom I am writing why I wrote what I wrote. That what I wrote is not personal, but a matter of trying to interject my point of view or opinion to help a situation that needs correction or monitoring.2. Face your fears. If possible, try and keep the issue between yourself and the other person(s). Working issues out together can be tricky but for the most part we all want to get along. Approaching the other with a non-defensive manner in speech and body language and using “I” instead of “you” can solve many a problem. 3. Like a boy (or girl) scout, be prepared. Have your facts in front of you as in our charting. Just the facts ma’am. I know it is easy to get caught up in emotions or take sides. By presenting the facts and not opinions, issues can be resolved and differences can be settled. 4. We are all in this together. As the songwriter and singer Prince sang “We have gathered here today to get through this thing called life”. We have and must work together. It is not about you or me or them, it is about us and the patients we serve. Think of not only how your words or actions will affect the other person or organization. Once you have said or written words in anger or hostility you cannot take them back. Write or verbalize what you see that needs improving or addressing for the good of everyone. A house divided will fall. We are all one big house and we need to build each other up, not down.We have all heard the term at our place of work “speak up and stop the line”. This means speaking up for what you see needs to be righted or addressed. Being silent and simmering on the inside does not a problem solve, grasshopper. It does as much damage as being verbally hostile. So next time you are tempted to lash out, “stop the line” on incivility with each other as problems can be addressed, finessed and solved. This is what defines us as human beings and as a nurse professionals. The art of nursing like life is a continual learning process and we can either choose to grow ourselves and our profession or grow down our profession and each other.
Angela Archer has been a nurse for over 28 years and graduated in 1990 from TJC, now known as TCC in Tulsa Oklahoma. She has worked in the Medical-Surgical Float Pool at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa recently returning to school and fulfilling her goal of completing a BSN. She is also planning to continue her education in a Master’s program in Nursing Informatics.
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