Answer these five questions to see how you score in the art of communication.
1. When giving report to a senior nurse on your unit, she frequently makes passive comments about tasks you didn’t get to during your shift, even though you’ve done everything essential. Once you’ve realized this pattern, you:
A. Stay after your shift is over to finish anything you didn’t get to. You don’t want her to be mad at you.
B. Talk about how unreasonable and rude she is to other co-workers.
C. Let her know you’ve observed this behavior and how it makes you feel.
2. A physician notorious for verbal abuse attempts to examine a patient on contact precautions, without wearing a gown and gloves. You:
A. Say nothing. What’s the point?
B. Sigh loudly and leave the room.
C. Ask to speak with her outside, then firmly explain your concerns.
3. A new nurse is preparing to place a Foley catheter. You happen to be in the room as he prepares his sterile field. He is flustered and rushed, and even though he contaminates his field, he continues anyway. You:
A. Quickly leave the room and pretend you didn’t see anything wrong.
B. Make a mental note to report this to his recent preceptor.
C. Gently place a hand on his shoulder and say quietly, “Let me get you another catheter.”
4. On the night shift, one of your patients reports excruciating pain after bowel surgery. You’re concerned that there’s an obstruction. The surgeon on-call has a reputation for yelling and degrading nurses when called in the middle of the night. You:
A. Wait it out. You can give another dose of morphine soon, maybe it’s just a pain control issue.
B. Beg your charge nurse to make the call. You just can’t do it.
C. Write down a brief report explaining the situation and your assessment before calling the surgeon.
5. There have been multiple incidents when transitioning a patient from the OR to the PACU in which Toradol has been given by both the anesthesia team and the surgical team. You decide to:
A. Do nothing. No one takes responsibility anyway. Who would you even discuss it with?
B. Put an anonymous tally in the break room: “Let’s count how many times ‘stupid’ happens?”
C. Identify this as a system issue, collecting data to help reinforce your concern so that you can make a lasting change.
Passive. You’re afraid of conflict and feel powerless in the workplace. You find yourself thinking, “Why start trouble? Nothing’s going to change anyway.” TIP: Start flexing your assertive muscle by identifying those moments where you may have a chance to address an issue. Write down what you’d like to say ahead of time. Keep the conversation focused on the problem at hand.
Passive-Aggressive. You can’t just sit by and do nothing, but you don’t want to be in the middle of it all, either. You’d rather someone else deal with it. TIP: If you find yourself talking about others more than to them, or making sarcastic comments that are based in truth, then you might be guilty of passive aggression. Addressing conflict respectfully and head-on will lighten the load of resentment you’re carrying.
Assertive. Congratulations! It’s not always easy, but you know that having difficult conversations is the best way to insure a healthy work environment and optimal patient outcomes. The more you practice, the more empowered you feel. And not only that, you’re setting an excellent example for those around you. Keep up the good work!