Embracing Civility

The REAL Healthcare Reform!

Tag: inspiration (page 1 of 2)

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.

How Will You Thank Your CNAs?

behind_nurse_running_cna_buttonHey Nurses!  Have you thanked your CNA today? 

National Nursing Assistants Week starts in 2 days!  Now is the time to shout out to the world just how much your CNAs mean to you!

Here are a few ways you can do it:

JFNA-logoCheck out what some celebrities have to say about nursing assistants!  Then leave
your comment to share in the shower of praise for your healthcare team’s
hardest working members!

newcover.inddAnd don’t forget, we’re giving away a free copy of our book when you
leave a comment HERE!
 Tell us how much you appreciate the
CNAs on your team!

12packHow about a gift to give your team?  Today only get a 12 PACK of our books
to give as gifts to your team.  Get them today only for a special, one-day-only, teeny-tiny price!  Hurry! This offer ends at midnight tonight!

Free Giveaway for National Nursing Assistants Week

CNA WeekNational Nursing Assistants Week starts in just 3 days.  So we’re getting a head start on saying “THANK YOU” to all the hardworking Nursing Assistants out there!

From now until Thursday, June 19th, we’re giving away free 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”).  

If you are a nursing assistant, tell us what you love about your job.

If you are a nurse, tell us about an amazing nursing assistant you know.

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

(Giveaway Ended – Form No Longer Available)

3.  Pay it Forward. When you are done reading the book, pass it on to another nursing assistant 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.

No Fields Found.

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.

Can You Spread This Germ?

You are contagious! Will you spread the happiness germ today! Here’s a little song to get you started. Go on, get up. Do your own happy dance. You don’t need a reason. Just do it. You’ll see!

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! 

What’s Your Fire Ant Personality?

I was ambushed by an angry mob of ferocious fire ants over the weekend. And, by “ambushed” I mean I suffered three tiny, but excruciating bites. And by “angry mob” I mean I stepped into their home and they failed to welcome me with tea and cookies!

As I scratched, iced and cortisone’d my assaulted ankles I decided I should probably do a Google search to see if I needed to worry about any other symptoms or complications. Turns out—no! I didn’t seem to be allergic and I didn’t suffer enough bites to warrant a trip to the ER! Phew!

Then I stumbled on a study published a few years ago that made me think a little differently about the angry beasts. It seems they have some pretty interesting and distinct personalities!

  • About one third of the colony will play dead during an attack (from a human foot or another colony of fire ants).
  • Another third will run away.
  • The final group will stay and fight to the death. (These are the chumps that got me!)

The first group is made up of the youngest ants. After an attack they can be found curled up just like a dead ant. Then moments later they uncurl and walk away.

Middle aged ants tend to flee, which scientist think may be a tactic to protect the queen.

The eldest ants are aggressive and attack furiously. One researcher points out, “All worker ants are females, and so it’s the cranky old ladies who are the ones fighting to the death.”

Looking at the structure of the fire ant colony reminded me a little bit of the social structures found in most healthcare workplaces. It resembles how different groups deal with the pervasive culture of incivility.

New graduates curl up and play dead when attacked. They may be unsure of how to respond or may fear the consequences that may come from defending themselves.

The more experienced workers tend to cope by ignoring the problem or retreating.

You can draw your own conclusions about the third group!

The interesting thing about the comparison though is that the fire ants act this way out of a primal instinct to protect their home and their family (aka colony) from danger. That makes sense. They are tiny little creatures trying to survive in a giant’s land. But, why do we do it?

Think about the fire ants the next time you are at work. Do you play dead, retreat or fight to the death? And, why? If you play dead, you’re giving the aggressor the confirmation he or she needs to feel powerful. If you ignore the problem or retreat, you may inadvertently perpetuate the problem by “protecting the queen.”

If you’re the one on the attack, think about what you are working so hard to defend. I can assure you, it’s not as important as your home or your entire family (like it is for the fire ants).

 

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!

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.

———————————————————————————-

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?

———————————————————————————-

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

Start Out Strong with the Power of Kindness and Giving

August is National Win with Civility Month! Here are some ideas (from the folks at helpothers.org) that you can use to start out strong and get your team thinking about the power of kindness and giving:

– Take flowers to work and share them with coworkers.

– Write a note to the boss of someone who has helped you, praising the employee.

– Leave enough money in the vending machine for the next person to get a free treat. (Tape the change and a note to the machine)

– Leave a cake or other food item in a central area anonymously with a Thank-You note.

– Email an article about an act of kindness to your group every week. (For examples, see www.helpothers.org)

– Give your manager or co-worker a thought-provoking book. (Hint: “The REAL Healthcare Reform: How Embracing Civility Can Beat Back Burnout and Revive Your Healthcare Career” is a great option for this one!)

– Print an inspiring story and put it on your work bulletin board.

– Commit “Random Acts of Thankfulness” with these “Thank You” cards.

– Buy a cup of coffee or snack for someone who is having a long day.

Have fun with this! It shouldn’t feel hard or forced. Just do what feels right and enjoy the collective, satisfied sigh of relief you hear from your team!

Leave us a comment about what you did and how it worked for you!

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