Embracing Civility

The REAL Healthcare Reform!

Category: Civility Tips (page 1 of 4)

8 Ways to Deal with a Difficult Co-Worker

You come across all kinds of different people in your job!  And different people have different personalities!

Your “personality” is a combination of all your mannerisms, quirks and behavior patterns that make up your character. It’s what makes you “You!”  How you see the world, your attitude, thoughts, and feelings are all part of your personality. 

Personality is usually formed at an early age.  We take cues from our family, friends, teachers and other influential people.  We try out different attitudes and behaviors and we stick with what works!

  • People with healthy personalities are able to cope with normal stresses and have no trouble communicating their needs and forming relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.
  • People who tend to be “difficult” when faced with stress may have trouble communicating their needs, forming relationships, or getting what they want out if life.

Getting along with all kinds of people (with a variety of different personalities) is part of your job.  That means, whether you like it or not, you have to find a way to handle people with difficult personalities.

HERE’S THE HARD TRUTH: No matter how hard you try, you will NEVER change other people!

The key to dealing with difficult people is changing the way you react to the situation!  Your attitude and communication skills will make all the difference!

Here are 8 things you can do when faced with a difficult person at work:

  1. Keep your cool. Whether your co-worker is yelling, complaining, criticizing or blaming, just  stand still, looking directly at the person…and wait.  This gives the person a chance to get all their anger out.
  2. Don’t be the “floor show.” If a co-worker wants to squabble in front of the team, calmly say, “I want to hear everything you have to say, but not here where it might disturb others.  Let’s go somewhere private.”
  3. Take ten.  Remember that old “rule” about counting to ten?  It really does work.  If you’re having trouble with #1 (keeping your cool), remove yourself from the situation, breathe slowly and count to ten.  When you’re ready, go back and handle the situation.
  4. Be the boss. Don’t allow other people to control your moods. This gives others entirely too much power over you.  So, if you’re in a good mood, don’t let someone else’s grouchy attitude bring you down.
  5. Focus on actions. When dealing with a difficult person, focus on the particular behaviors you don’t like…rather than just labeling the person.  For example, instead of saying, “You’re always so rude” try saying, “I feel hurt when you ignore me.”
  6. Be your own cheerleader. The next time you have to work with a difficult person, give yourself a little “pep talk.”  Tell yourself, “I’m ready for this.  I can handle whatever happens today.  I will not get upset, no matter what.”
  7. Play it back in your head. If you saw a videotape of yourself from a recent confrontation with a difficult person, would you be embarrassed by your own behavior?  If so, how would you like to see yourself behave?
  8. Save your strength. Don’t waste your energy trying to change people who behave in a difficult manner.  Instead, work on changing the way you react to their behavior.

HEY TRAINERS AND EDUCATORS! Here’s an activity from the Instructor’s Manual for “The REAL Healthcare Reform Civility Training Program.  Use this activity to practice ways to resolve common work related conflicts.

Download the Activity!

Drill Down to Basics

basic-needs
I heard the yelling long before I saw the resident and her Aide struggling their way to the dining room.

I was sitting in a small med room just off the dining room in the locked Memory Care unit of an Assisted Living Facility.

The Aide seemed to have everything under control, so I waited and listened.

The resident was agitated.  The Aide spoke in a soothing voice.

The resident started ripping off her clothes.  The Aide gently re-routed her to a bathroom for privacy.

The resident screamed profanities from the bathroom.  The Aide waited patiently with her.

The resident tried to hit the Aide.  The Aide stood at the door and asked her co-worker to “bring the tray.”

A breakfast tray was handed off to the bathroom.

I could hear the Aide calmly say through the resident’s shrieks and screams, “Here’s your bacon.  You love bacon.”  And, “Oooh, you have a biscuit this morning.  Wanna try a bite?”

The cursing and shouting slowed, and then stopped.

A few minutes later, a quiet (and fully dressed) resident and her Aide emerged from the bathroom and sat down at a table to finish breakfast.

When the episode was over, I couldn’t help but think about this commercial!

In the old days, this type of resident behavior may have resulted in some sort of restraint.  Today, most healthcare environments are restraint-free.  That means we need to have more creative solutions!

In this case, the Aide used a method I call, “Drilling Down to Basics.”  The idea is that when a resident becomes agitated or combative, there’s a good chance that one of his or her “basic needs” is not being met.  The basic needs are hungry, thirsty, tired, lonely or in some sort of pain.  So the caregiver identifies the basic need that is not being met and meets it!

In this case, the resident was hungry.

As the episode resolved, the mood in the room returned to normal and everyone went about their business.

But that’s when I started thinking about how this may relate to incivility and dealing with difficult co-workers or your own difficult behaviors.

The resident in this scenario had Alzheimer’s disease which made it nearly impossible for her to express her needs.  People without AD can’t use that excuse!  But it’s possible that the same dynamic is in play.

I can’t speak for other people, but I know for a fact:

  • I’m grumpier when I’m hungry. 
  • I’m shorter-tempered when I’m tired. 
  • And I can be downright mean when I’m in pain. 

And to make matters worse, it’s difficult be objective about yourself and connect these behaviors to your own basic needs that are not being met.

So here’s my challenge to you:

The next time someone is being rude, mean or raging-on irrationally, remember the Aide in the Memory Care unit.  Stay calm.  Speak kindly and gently.  Remain patient.  Then try to get to the root of the problem.

Offer to get the person a snack.  Suggest they take a break, if possible.  Ask her if she’s feeling okay.  There’s a good chance one of these suggestions will hit her right where she needs it.

If you find yourself being rude or irrational, be your own Aide.  Step back and assess your own basic needs.  Take care of yourself.

pitcher2

When Sympathy is Not Enough . . .

All of us at Embracing Civility are honored to have Corey Anne Rotella, CNA, lend her very special voice to our blog as a regular contributor. Corey has worked on the frontlines of long term care since 2008. As she states, “Sometimes, you pick a career and sometimes a career picks you. In my case, the latter is true.”  (You can read more about Corey below.)

Here, Corey shares her thoughts on the importance of empathy in healthcare:

judy garland2Even before becoming a nursing assistant, I considered myself to be a sympathetic person, capable of feeling great sorrow for those in less fortunate circumstances. I would think, “Those poor homeless, sick, or emotionally disturbed people. How very sorry I feel for them!” Such feelings of sympathy tugged at my heart—but not for long. They moved quickly to the back burner, replaced by the routine of my own daily life.

The hard truth is that those fleeting moments of sorrow were really about ME. I had no idea what the people in those situations were going through, emotionally, mentally or physically. I only knew that it was far worse than anything that was happening to me. I realized that, in my sympathy, I was wishing I could pull them up to my level–without having any real understanding of their current struggles.

That’s the trouble with sympathy…
it’s all about the sympathizer.
That’s why the feelings fade.

It’s like those memes you see on Facebook: “Can I get a thousand likes for this child with cancer?” Or, “Repost this picture of an injured animal; otherwise you support animal abuse!”

Messages like these fly through the internet at a dizzying pace, forgotten in days, if not hours, and replaced with something else that MUST BE RE-POSTED. While it is a nice to know that people do care about others, this “sympathy” does nothing to enact lasting change.

Sympathy is a good beginning, but it doesn’t run deeply enough to foster the kind of understanding that we can use to ultimately heal one another. That’s why, in healthcare, sympathy by itself is a useless emotion! In this field, we have to meet people where they are rather than attempt to pull them “up” to where we are. To accomplish this, we need empathy.

Empathy is the ability to walk in another’s shoes. It is a skill, and like any skill, it requires both thought and practice. It takes time to develop but the value of empathy in every walk of life cannot be overstated.

But how can a young, healthy person possibly understand what it’s like to live with Alzheimer’s or cancer? How do you walk in the shoes of someone living with mental illness or who is facing a terminal illness?

The most honest answer is that we can’t. Not exactly. But we CAN relate. Every one of us brings our own unique set of experiences to each situation. For example, I don’t know what it’s like to live with Alzheimer’s disease, but I do know what it is like to feel as if I am not valued. I do know what it’s like to feel scared. I do know what it’s like to need help and not know where to turn. Someone living with Alzheimer’s is probably feeling all of those emotions.

I am able to use my own experiences to identify and relate to their troubles. I can apply what helped me through my difficulties to help them with theirs. So, where sympathy is passive (you feel it and move on), empathy is active, creative and helpful.

There is no “one size fits all” solution to everyone’s problem, but the ability to genuinely empathize with others opens the door to solutions.

Empathy is equally important when engaging with co-workers.

One of my favorite parts of working in healthcare is the diversity. We interact with people from a variety of educational, cultural and economic backgrounds—and we all bring something different to the table.

Things run smoothest when we can all relate to and understand each other without prejudging or making assumptions. Unfortunately, prejudging and making assumptions about others is prevalent in the healthcare field, and patients suffer because of it.

Look around at your team. Can you be more helpful and understanding to the new girl who speaks English as a second language? What about the older nurse who is burned out and crabby? Can you imagine the pressure that doctor feels? And someone in billing just lost her husband to cancer.

It’s not enough just to feel sorry for these people. EMPATHY is the only thing that helps. Empathy creates bridges and bonds. It helps people feel safe. It fosters an environment where everyone feels supported and valued.

Whether you work in housekeeping or perform brain surgery, empathy is a skill everyone can improve upon! We must all remember that (regardless of our differences) we have all experienced the same emotions and we are all working towards the same goals. If we can do this, then we can achieve a more productive, healthier, and happier work environment.


Here’s more about Corey Anne Rotella, in her own words:

Corey2“At first, I worked in the housekeeping department at an assisted living facility until I could afford to take the state test. Then I moved up to CNA. I also have my Medication Aid certification, but my heart is on the floor, where I can interact, observe and care for my residents.  My priority is taking time with my residents so that they know they are valued as human beings.  At the end of the day, don’t we all need to know that?

What I love most about my job as a CNA is that every single lesson I learn at work can be applied in all areas of my life.  A lifelong chronicler, I began to fuse my two passions and write about my work experiences, my perceptions and the issues that we all face in the healthcare system–patients and workers alike.

Survey Results: A Disturbing Trend

shockedOkay, remember that survey we started a few weeks ago dealing with bad bosses? Well, after weeding through hundreds of responses, we narrowed down a disturbing trend.

Here are the results:

I have (or had) a bad boss . . .
44% said Right now <~~~ Not too shocking.
31% said At my last job
25 % said A while ago
0% said Never

The problem with this supervisor is (or was) his (or her) . . .
31% said Incompetence <~~~ An expected response.
25% said Mean or thoughtless comments
19% said Lack of professionalism
13% said Other
6% said Absence (never around when needed)
6% had No response

What I did (or will do) about it . . .
38% said Talk to my Supervisor’s boss <~~~ Completely normal action to take.
19% said Talk to my Supervisor
13% said Talk to my co-workers
13% said Look for another job
13% said Quit
4% said Nothing

Did your actions solve the problem?
99.35% said No <~~~ Wait. What? Now this is DISTURBING!
Less than 1% said Yes

Nearly no one felt like their actions solved the problem. That’s just discouraging and . . . um . . . depressing.

When I realized where the results were going, I started to scour the web looking for experts who gave “the best advice” for handling a bad boss.

I found experts who said, “just quit.” But how does that solve the problem? It just leaves the bad boss in place to torment others.

I found experts who said, “You must go to HR.” Really? And that solves what?

I looked in our own book and found the section titled When It’s Not You It’s Your Supervisor, which I posted along with the survey. It’s good advice, but I kept looking.

shocked2Then, I found something that KNOCKED MY SOCKS OFF!

Alice, a CNA who writes for a blog called CNA Edge gave this advice in a recent post:

“. . . there is a freedom in having poor leadership. It means we either learn how to become leaders ourselves or we let the system beat us down.  We learn to not just survive in these impossible situations, but thrive. We excel, when they treat us as disposable, we rise above the sniping and backbiting and keep moving forward.”

“If enough of us do this, consistently and not just when it’s easy, we will become an asset that anyone with any sense will be loath to lose. And we will be doing this on our own terms for our own reasons. We will lead by example. If we do that, eventually we will have a voice that people will not be able to ignore.”

I love Alice’s advice because it reminds us that the only thing we are REALLY in charge of is ourselves. It’s probably safe to assume that NOTHING is going to change your bad boss until he or she is ready to change.  But you can change the way you deal with the crappy situation!

Can you take Alice’s advice and find the
“freedom” that comes with having poor leadership?

Will you step up and take the lead?

How can you be the best example of leadership
when the actual leaders are blowing it?

Hating Your Job? Are You the Workplace Grouch?

“So, how was your day?” is a question you may be asked, well, every day. Do you answer honestly? Do you gloss over the stressful moments and face-palms? Or do you answer by focusing almost entirely on them? Maybe you just respond with something like “It’s good, now that it’s over.”

The vast majority of workers are not satisfied with their jobs. This is not necessarily a matter of the grass being greener somewhere -anywhere- else. The overwhelming issue contributing to dissatisfaction is not usually compensation, job duties, career opportunities, or even hours worked.

Taken alone, devoid of all the aggravating accoutrements, you might actually enjoy the job you hold. After all, didn’t you seek out and actively pursue this position? Remember how great the first few days on the job felt? You probably felt proud of yourself for landing that first interview, then beating out the competition and telling all your family and friends about how the hiring manager loved your resume/work ethic/test score/shoes.

Well, what happened? Fast forward five years: you’ve been slogging it out for what seems like a lifetime and dread walking in the door every morning. You snatch glimpses of the clock at work and sigh when only a few minutes pass between glances. No amount of will or wishing makes it tick any faster.

In many cases you can blame it on the workload, low pay, lack of promotion potential, and weak coffee in the break-room. But do those things really make you loathe your job? Lots of people love their low paying jobs. Lots of people work hard in dead end jobs. Lots of people suffer weak coffee. I’m not sure that’s why the workforce is not satisfied.

But there’s another big one: what about your workplace environment? Your coworkers, your customers, your bosses. How do they make you feel? Do you look forward to seeing them every day? If you’re like most, you have a work friend or two, and most everyone else you can stand, at least for a while. But there’s always one or two unkind folks that just drag the whole place down. Or what about that spiteful customer that just loves to watch you squirm? Doesn’t that make you just want to throw whatever’s in your arms straight to the ground and stomp out for good?

I submit thus the reason why you hate your job. Negativity has struck, at least in your own head, but maybe even the entire workplace is infected with it (kind of like the stomach bug passed around at the last Christmas party).  Maybe (probably), you and everyone around you already know this. So, what’s the big deal? Isn’t everyone negative at work? That may seem to be a legitimate excuse. Everyone hates their job, so why shouldn’t I? Guess what? You are part of the problem!

funny_cartoon_new_year_resolutions_calvin_and_hobbes

Well, here’s your dose of antidote to the poison that ails you. Civility. Yes, civility. What is it? And should it matter in the slightest? Most people equate it to being polite and meek. Something expected of you as a child. But that is not really accurate- it is a mature and self-respecting state of being. Here are a few other things it isn’t: a desire to create a faux pleasant atmosphere at your own expense. Civility is not about letting aggressive people stand on your exposed soft parts.

A couple more things that it is: self-control, self-reflection, maturity, taking responsibility for yourself, managing your export. Export in this sense means the manner in which you present yourself, speak to others and non-verbally communicate. Imagine how much better you would feel if you controlled the environment around you, especially pertaining to those negative people that bring you down. They’ve turned you to the dark side! Get back on track by retaking the initiative and choosing your own path.

I don’t have a personally relatable anecdote for each and every person out there who needs to learn or become reacquainted with civility. But I have a guide for you, and a good one at that. It’s called Get the Grouch Out! How Embracing Civility Can Banish Bad Behaviors and Create a More Respectful and Productive Workplace.

grouch_frontcover

Here are some of the things you should be able to internalize and practice by reading this guidebook:

  • Learn to self-reflect and self-manage.
  • Focus on your integrity.
  • Recognize how you present yourself to others.
  • Control your negative moods.
  • Deal with difficult people.
  • Maintain professional relationships.
  • Communicate properly with a team.
  • Fix structural workplace problems from within.

As a whole, the guide will show you that to empower yourself with personal control is to be in a civil state of being. It shows that adhering to a method of personal control and owning your own path to happiness and success is a gift everyone can and should give to themselves right now. Go get it for yourself now on Kindle, and take your workplace back!

THANK YOU! Your gift is on the way!

thanks

Thank you to all of the dedicated nurses who participated in our Nurses’ Week Giveaway!  Your responses were uplifting and inspiring!

If you completed the first 2 steps (posted a comment and sent us your address) then you can expect to receive your free, signed copy of The REAL Healthcare Reform in 2 to 3 weeks.

If you work with a terrific CNA, check back with us the week of June 13-20 for National Nursing Assistant Week.  We’ll do another giveaway, but this one will be for nursing assistants!

Free For Nurses’ Week . . . [last day to enter]

newcover.inddHey Nurses!  It’s National Nurses’ Week and we’d like to say “THANK YOU!”  From now until Monday, May 12th, we’re giving away free, signed copies of our book!

It’s pretty easy.  Just follow these three quick steps:

1.  Leave a comment below, (where it says “Join the Conversation”) telling us why you love being a nurse.

2.  Fill out this form so we know where to send your book.

–> FORM NO LONGER AVAILABLE. CONTEST HAS ENDED. <–

3.  Pay it Forward. When you are done reading the book, pass it on to another nurse who you think may benefit from reading it.

Please Note: You must leave a comment below and send us your address in form above in order to receive your free book.

Survey: Tell Us about Your Bad Boss!

bad bossAt some point, just about everyone experiences
the agony of a bad boss.

But what do you do about it? Sometimes it helps
to know what others do in the same situation.

Take this short survey.
It’s completely anonymous!
We’ll gather answers and post results in about a week!

While you wait for results . . .

If you’re dealing with a difficult supervisor right now, there are a few things you can try to make the situation a little less frustrating.  Here’s an except from The REAL Healthcare Reform:

When It’s Not You…It’s Your Supervisor!

Resolving problems with a “boss” can be tricky, especially if that person has the power to make your job difficult (or make it go away). 

Here are some tips for getting along with your supervisor, even if you don’t always see eye to eye:

  • Review the expectations.  Make sure that your priorities match what your supervisor expects of you.  You’ll never measure up to your supervisor’s expectations if you don’t know what they are!
  • Remain professional.  Remember that you are there to provide care to your        patients—not to make friends.  As a professional, your goal is to get the job done and carry out your supervisor’s instructions.
  • Don’t expect to change others.  If you work for a “difficult” supervisor, there is probably nothing you can do to change his or her behavior.  The only thing you can control is your own attitude about that person.
  • Take a deep breath.  If a supervisor criticizes your performance, take a deep breath and look at the situation objectively.  Did you really do your best?  Keep in mind that constructive criticism gives us an opportunity to learn and grow professionally.
  • Keep emotions out of it.  If a supervisor confronts you about something, remain calm.  If you let yourself react emotionally, the situation can turn into a “war” where you and your supervisor are fighting about who is right.  Instead, simply say, “I understand.  Thank you for the information.”  Or, try asking for advice and ideas about how your work can be improved.
  • Be careful about complaining.  It may be tempting to complain about your supervisor to your co-workers.  But, be careful!  You may wind up being labeled as a chronic complainer instead of a team player—and your negative comments about your supervisor may get back to him or her and can be used against you.

What’s your solution? Feel free to tell us your
“bad boss” story in the comments below!

“OMG, She’s Driving Me NUTS!” 8 Ways to Deal with a Difficult Co-Worker

difficult

You come across all kinds of different people in your job!  And different people have different personalities!

Your “personality” is a combination of all your mannerisms,
quirks and behavior patterns that make up your character.
It’s what makes you “You!”  How you see the world, your
attitude, thoughts, and feelings are all part of your personality. 

Personality is usually formed at an early age.  We take cues from our family, friends, teachers and other influential people.  We try out different attitudes and behaviors and we stick with what works!

  • People with healthy personalities are able to cope with normal stresses and have no trouble communicating their needs and forming relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.
  • People who tend to be “difficult” when faced with stress may have trouble communicating their needs, forming relationships, or getting what they want out if life.

Getting along with all kinds of people (with a variety of different personalities) is part of your job.  That means, whether you like it or not, you have to find a way to handle people with difficult personalities.

HERE’S THE HARD TRUTH: No matter how hard you try, you will NEVER change other people!

The key to dealing with difficult people is changing the way you react to the situation!  Your attitude and communication skills will make all the difference!

Here are 8 things you can do when faced with a difficult person at work:

  1. Keep your cool. If someone is yelling at you, crying or complaining loudly, try standing still, looking directly at the person…and waiting.  This gives the person a chance to get all their anger out.
  2. Don’t be the “floor show.” If a co-worker wants to squabble in front of the team, you might also try saying, “I want to hear everything you have to say, but not here where it might disturb others.  Let’s go somewhere private.”
  3. Take ten.  Remember that old “rule” about counting to ten?  It really does work.  The next time you feel angry or upset with a coworker, breathe slowly and count to ten—before you speak.  You’ll feel better about the way you handle the situation.
  4. Be the boss. Don’t allow other people to control your moods.  If you do, you are giving them tremendous power over you.  So, if you’re in a good mood, don’t let someone else’s grouchy attitude bring you down.
  5. Focus on actions. When dealing with a difficult person, focus on the particular behaviors you don’t like…rather than just labeling the person.  For example, instead of saying, “You’re always so rude” try saying, “I feel hurt when you ignore me.”
  6. Be your own cheerleader. The next time you have to work with a difficult person, give yourself a little “pep talk.”  Tell yourself, “I’m ready for this.  I can handle whatever happens today.  I will not get upset, no matter what.”
  7. Play it back in your head. If you saw a videotape of yourself from a recent confrontation with a difficult person, would you be embarrassed by your own behavior?  If so, how would you like to see yourself behave?
  8. Save your strength. Don’t waste your energy trying to change people who behave in a difficult manner.  Instead, work on changing the way you react to their behavior.

HEY TRAINERS AND EDUCATORS! Here’s an activity from the Instructor’s Manual for “The REAL Healthcare Reform Civility Training Program.  Use this activity to practice ways to resolve common work related conflicts.

Download the Activity!

 

How Do You Handle Criticism?

I recently watched this video series from Jimmy Kimmel where celebrities read the “Mean Tweets” that people post about them on Twitter.

Everyone’s a critic these days!  Our ultra-connected, mostly-anonymous online lives allow us to criticize products we buy on Amazon or to “review” services like restaurants on Yelp.  Every day, millions of us go online to publicly criticize movies, books, gardeners, restaurants, doctors, dentists, actors, day cares and even public schools.

Here’s a funny series where children’s book authors read their 1 star reviews from Amazon!

You can look up “reviews” on anything.  Go ahead try it!  It doesn’t even have to be something you spend money on.  For instance, you can look up “reviews” on public parks near your home and, believe it or not, you’ll find someone who has a complaint!

Chances are, if you’re reading this post, you’re not a celebrity!  But, on a smaller (and less public scale) you still have to deal with criticism and complaints from clients, co-workers, supervisors and maybe even your own family.

So what’s the best way to respond to a complaint? Or more importantly, how do you respond with civility when the complaint does not contain one shred of civility toward you?

By chance, or luck, or fate, whatever you call it. I received an email this morning from “The Universe,” (I subscribe to the website, Notes from the Universe!) and here is what it said:

Stacey, the trouble with troublesome people is that they often have much to teach to those they trouble.

Love ’em all,
The Universe

Well, that works! I can do that.  Can you?

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