You talkin’ to me?

Taxi Driver, courtesy of Columbia Pictures

I’m sure we’ve all had those Robert De Niro moments where life, the system, the “whatever” has brought us to a breaking point where we just feel like pushing back a bit, although my disclaimer here is that I’m in no way advising anyone to step off the deep end and have the “Taxi Driver” approach.

What sparked this post was an email update that I received from a LinkedIn group, Nursing Network. The title of the entry was “What is the most stressful thing about being a nurse?” Check it out here to join the conversation.

Before I even clicked on the link I asked myself the same question. For me I find quite a bit of stress in not being able to help more people, my business is growing and I’m just trying to keep up, and I wish I had more time to collaborate on all of these great projects I get asked on. Basically I can’t be in two places at once, although I still keep trying.

“Oh sure, this guy is just full of it. He LOVES his job, LOVES the people he works with, and would rather be working than taking a vacation.”

Well, I do love what I do and the people I work with, but I’m not going to turn down a margarita on the beach while working on my tan sunburn.

So I of course clicked on the link to hear about what nurses are struggling with. The discussion is heating up about topics such as co-worker strain and absence of leadership or rather mismanagement with the lack of knowledge about what’s really happening in the organization. Linda Leekley, BS, RN from Embracing Civility  popped in on the conversation regarding the grassroots movement to help implement positive change to toxic work environments. We discussed this very topic on RN.FM Radio and you might just want to listen to this one.

After reading through the thread at Nursing Network I was reminded again about what my fellow nursing professional experiences when it comes to their own toxic work environment. I realize that this isn’t the case for everyone, but it really shouldn’t be the case for anyone. So what advice can you possibly receive from the guy who skips to work everyday? Well before you judge, remember, you have a choice. I’ve been in those work environments and I’ve even experienced it in the non-clinical arena before I was a nurse. The thing is though, I’ve either been able to positively affect change in that environment, or if I realized it wasn’t sustainable then I made a decision for my own health to pursue a change in venue.

Even though I’m an entrepreneur it doesn’t mean that I don’t have any exposure to toxic situations. I do recognize however that I might have an easier out than most, although I need to reiterate that you too have a choice. I keep the bar pretty high around here when it comes to how we treat each other. Whether I’m the manager or if it’s a client relationship with an organization we contract with, I still consider you a colleague and you will be treated with respect. Nothing less.

There are those situations that I come into contact with every now and again where someone just isn’t playing nice in the sandbox. They may not even be willing to share their Tonka® trucks. Whatever the case, I’ve recently implemented a practice where I allow the individual to reframe the conversation or the response. The exchange may come in the form of an email, a phone call, or even face-to-face. The negative tone may not always be the intent. I always ask for the question or statement to be reframed just to make sure that my interpretation isn’t off. Many times the individual isn’t aware of the delivery and has a moment to reflect and rephrase the response. Maybe they’re just having a really rough day and this isn’t the norm.

Now if it’s the case that they’re just being an ass, well I still give them an opportunity for an attitude check and to make certain this is how they want to deliver the message. If the negativity continues with no obvious signs to resolve the issue, then I walk away. I’m done. You’re taking up space in my life and affecting my business so it’s in your best interest to check that tude at the door, otherwise the relationship isn’t sustainable. Period.

I’m not saying that I give up easily. I’ll work at it, I’ll put in the effort, but I won’t sacrifice my own health to remain in a toxic environment. You shouldn’t either. Assess the situation. Is this something that can be worked out? Is it a simple misunderstanding? Do you have the support of other colleagues and management? If not, then it may just be time to implement a new plan of care. It may involve a transfer or leaving altogether, but it may just be the decision that has a much better outcome for you in the long run.

For me, I’m going to lead by example. My attitude will be both positive and infectious. I will treat you with respect. I will value your opinion. At times we may agree to disagree, but I will do it respectfully. I encourage you to do the same. If you start throwing sand however, then you can take your Tonka® elsewhere.

Be empowered. You have a choice. What are you going to do?

1 Comment

  1. Be excellent to each other | RN.FM Radio on July 31, 2012 at 11:57 am

    […] was moved to write a post over at Innovative Nurse based on a question asked at the Nursing Network group: “What is the most stressful thing […]

Leave a Comment