Embracing Civility

The REAL Healthcare Reform!

Tag: civil discourse (page 1 of 3)

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

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!

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?

As the old birds sing . . .

birdI’m always fascinated by the “words of wisdom” that come from other cultures. For instance, in Italy they say “Cercare il pelo nell’ uovo,” which means to “look for the hair in the egg,” or in other words, to find fault or nit-pick!

In Spanish, I’m drawn to “Poco a poco se anda lejos.” This translates to “Little by little, one goes far.”

And now, thanks to Linda Leekley, my new favorite Norwegian expression is “Some dei gamle sungo, so kveda dei unge.” In her latest blog post over at In the Know, Linda translates it to “As the old birds sing, so do the young ones tweet.”

And as it turns out, it’s a good lesson for some of us “Old Bird” nurses!

Linda writes: 

Blog Quote from Linda Leekley at In the Know.

Thanks for the great lesson, Linda! 

Are You Spreading Specific and Measurable Sunshine?

“A compliment is verbal sunshine” 

~ Robert Orben

Our sister blog, nurse-aide.com challenges us all to be more than just generous with our compliments. Linda Leekley, BS RN believes we need to make compliments really count by carefully crafting them to be specific and measurable! She writes:

Read the entire post here!

Now you try it! Set a goal for yourself to give at least one specific and measurable compliment to someone who deserves it every day! Check back and let us know how it works! We love to hear your success stories!

CivilitySTAT!

Answers to your personal questions about
combating workplace incivility right NOW!

We get lots of questions about workplace incivility, and we’d like to share them with you! While each problem is specific to the individual who sends it,
most people will be able to relate and make use of the information.

If you have something you’d like to ask our workplace incivility experts, click here and send us your anonymous question.  We will never publish real names or workplaces in this column.

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Dear Civility STAT!

I work in a nursing home in Tennessee. Our employer does not provide a private break area away from resident’s and their families. We have to share the snack machines, fridge, and microwave. Our time clock and other personal items are in there. We are not paid for a 30 minute break, and we have no where to get away from resident care. Is this legal?

~ fed up in tn

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Dear Fed-up in TN,

Thank you for submitting your question. It’s a good one!

First, regarding the unpaid lunch:Federal law does not mandate any specific meal or rest breaks. It does, however, give guidance as to whether or not an employee should be paid during these times. Short breaks (usually 20 minutes or less) should be counted as hours worked. True “meal periods” are usually 30 minutes or more, and do not need to be paid as work time.

But, here’s the catch: During an unpaid meal break, a worker must be completely free of his or her work duties. If the employee is still required to do any duties (even minor duties such as answering a phone), it can’t be considered a meal or lunch period and must be paid. So, if patients or families are coming in and engaging employees in patient-related discussions or making requests, it would seem that that could not be considered a break.

And, here is some OSHA stuff that addresses the problem with the public break room:

“OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard prohibits the consumption of food and drink in areas in which work involving exposure or potential exposure to blood or other potentially infectious material takes place, or where the potential for contamination of work surfaces exists [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(2)(ix)]. Also, under 29 CFR 1910.141(g)(2), employees shall not be allowed to consume food or beverages in any area where occupational exposure through the contamination of food and beverages is likely.

From what I can tell, OSHA inspectors evaluate each facility on a case by case basis. If your break room has the public in and out frequently, and you are expected to share the same fridge and microwave with potentially infected residents, then OSHA might object.

Then, there’s the HIPAA issue. Mixing staff, residents and families in a space intended for staff to relax is a HIPAA violation just waiting to happen. Staff members talk. They have to. It’s part of the debriefing process. It’s how we process and deal with all the stuff that happens on a typical shift. Residents and family members will, sooner or later come upon a discussion in that public break room and a hipaa violation will be tremendously costly the facility.

And finally, it’s a morale issue. A private break room would create a space for your team to unwind. Nobody can stay “plugged-in” all day long. Your body and mind will become drained. Drained staff members are more likely to experience decreased morale, a drop in sharpness (leading to more medical errors) and loss of productivity. A private break room would give you and your co-workers a place to go to get away for a while and mentally recharge so you can return to your residents rested and re-energized.

You could present all these angles to your employer. But, if you also want to present a solution, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there a space anywhere in the facility that is unused (or poorly used) that could possibly be converted into a private staff room?
  • Are there any staff members who would be willing to get involved in making the private staff room happen? Your employer might be more willing to agree to renovate a space if you meet halfway and offer some elbow grease.
  • If money is a problem and items like a fridge and furniture are not in the budget, maybe a fundraiser could help. Your employer may be willing to match funds if every staff member was willing to contribute $10-$20 dollars.

If you need more specific information about the laws in your state, call The TN Division of Labor Standards at 615-741-2858 (option 3) or toll-free at 1-866-588-6814.

Hope this helps. Please keep us posted. We love to hear your success stories!

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If you have something you’d like to ask our workplace incivility experts,
click here and send us your anonymous question.

Nurse Managers: Ditch the Trinkets, Trophies and Doodads!

Looking for an innovative way to reward and inspire your team? It’s probably safe to assume they have enough pens, key chains, water bottles and canvas tote bags!

Before you order your next trinket or chachki, ask yourself if any of those giveaways ever really made a change. For example:

– Did your customized water bottles ever reduce costly medical errors?

– Did the pens and key chains increase employee retention?

– Did the canvas tote bags improve client satisfaction or enhance your organization’s reputation?

The Real Healthcare ReformChances are good that your answers are “No, no and no!” So, why keep doing it?

Instead of the typical gimmicks and giveaways, make your incentive dollars count!  Give a gift that shows just how much you value your employees, your clients and your organization.

Give the book, “The REAL Healthcare Reform: How Embracing Civility Can Beat Back Burnout and Revive Your Healthcare Career” as your next incentive gift!

By giving “The REAL Healthcare Reform” to your team, you will

    • Encourage civility,
    • Promote healthy teamwork,
    • Enhance your team’s communication,
    • Decrease your turnover rate,
    • Improve client care, and
    • Reduce costly medical errors.

That’s a valuable return you won’t get by giving t-shirts or tote bags!

With special bulk pricing in place, you can put of a copy of “The REAL Healthcare Reform” into the hands of every member of your organization for as little as $4.98 each. Here are your options:

Quantity
of Books

Qty
Discount

Price
Each

Your
Cost

12

50%

9.97

$119.64

24

55%

8.97

$215.28

50

60%

7.98

$399.00

100

65%

6.98

$698.00

150

70%

5.98

$897.00

300

75%

4.98

$1,494.00


List Price:  Book / Instructor’s Manual
$19.95 ea. /  $125.00 ea.

Click here to learn more about
“The REAL Healthcare Reform” and read a sample chapter!

 

What change do you want to be a part of?

We were honored to be contacted this week by Tomas Spath and Cassandra Dahnke from The Institute for Civility in Government. Although our target audience is different (politicians for them, healthcare for us), our platform is the same. Our common goal: Civility.

Those of you who have read our book, “The REAL Healthcare Reform” may already recognize The Institute for Civility in Government. They inspired our thoughts about civility with their “definition.” They were, and continue to be a great inspiration to us!

If you are not already aware of their work, philosophy and goals, please see the Editorial Letter re-printed below. If you have an interest in restoring civility to public and political discourse, please contact The Institute and find out how you can begin to make a difference in your own community.

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An Editorial Letter from
Tomas Spath and Cassandra Dahnke
The Institute for Civility in Government.

Things change.  That’s what they say.  And indeed they do.  Technology changes.  Norms change.  Culture changes.  Laws change over time.  Some of the change is good, and some – not so much.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.   That’s what they say.  Some people lead.  Others follow.  Everyone is in it for themselves.  Greed abounds.  Corruption is real.  The world is always at war somewhere.  People are essentially kind.

Which truth is true?  Both?  Neither?  One or the other?  One more than the other?  The way you answer those questions says a lot about the way you approach life.

If you believe that the more things change, the more they stay the same, you probably don’t have much incentive to get involved in a whole lot beyond your personal space.  Why bother?  It’s not going to make a difference anyway.

If you believe things change, you may say that civility is old fashioned and has lost its place as a priority.  You may believe civility is quaint, weak – a social “nicety” with no real purpose.  The world has moved on.

Or, if you believe things change, you may want to roll up your sleeves and do something to counteract the growing polarization in this country.  You may want to help restore civility to our communities and nation.  You may want to (gasp!) get involved and make a difference!

We decided to do just that when we became aware that in this country we, as a society, lack the basic skills and will to maintain civility with one another even in the midst of disagreement.  It isn’t that we immediately get ugly and hateful and angry (although we do that with alarming frequency).  But as often as not, once we discover we fundamentally disagree with someone else we shut down, conversation stops, and we walk away – never to relate on anything more than a superficial level again, if that.

So we launched the Institute for Civility in Government – a grassroots, non-partisan, non-profit organization whose purpose is to teach civility skills and give voice to all those who long to shift the culture from one of polarization and antagonism to one of mutual respect and cooperative effort.  Yes – give voice to Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents – everyone!  The Institute doesn’t take a position on anyone or any issue.  We just say we need to do this thing called governing – at any and all levels – better.  And the good news is we can!

We can give other people a chance to be heard without shouting them down, calling them names, or tuning them out.  We can express our own viewpoints from the strength of our own position rather than by the weaknesses of someone else’s.  We can operate on the trust that most of us truly want the best for our city, state and country, even if we don’t always agree on what the best is.  We can model the behavior we teach our children – to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

What is civility?  We define civility as “claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.”  It’s not about giving in just to get along, but claiming our own beliefs even as we respectfully allow others to claim theirs.  That doesn’t sound so very difficult, does it?  And yet it seems to elude us.

What is at stake?  What difference does it make if we yell and scream and call other people names?  Well, for one thing – words are formative.  Disagreeing with someone can easily slide into disliking them.  Disliking them can easily slide into demonizing them.  Demonizing them can easily slide into victimizing them.  It’s a slippery slope that the human community has traveled down too many times already, and it’s time to stop.  It’s time to hold to a standard of civility – not because it is the law, but because it is the national will.

While it is unfortunate that we have reached a time and place where we must organize for civility, we evidently have.  Yet the good news is that as more and more people give voice to their support for civility, it will become politically expedient for our elected officials to model the behavior we expect.

If we cannot listen and speak with one another with respect, there is little else we can accomplish together.  And if we don’t practice civility everywhere, the day may soon come when we cannot find civility anywhere.

Change doesn’t happen by itself.  People make it happen – for better or for worse.  What change do you want to be a part of?

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Please visit www.instituteforcivility.org for
more inforation about this great organization!

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