Some call it professional development…

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Some people call learning how to communicate more effectively professional development. Really, if you think about it hard enough, it is growing up and learning to be a decent human being who thinks of someone besides themselves from time to time.

I am at a loss for words when I see grown educated people who are unable to carry on a decent conversation in the work place. (Keep in mind, I used to struggle with this a lot more than I do now. Actually, it was not that long ago.) Looking back, I think some of my bad behavior was reactionary, or at worst, retaliatory in nature. Unfortunately, I cannot speak to you like you are scum just because we are not BFFs. I have to communicate in a civil manner. It would not be the end of the world if I were friendly even. When you see someone sitting in front of you, say “Hello.” Or, Hallo! If you want to quote my favorite worm. You see these people every day. Be nice. Find some damn common ground. It cannot be that difficult. 

I am often confused when people tell me someone is intimidated by me. Although, my apparent Resting Bitch Face does not help. I do not mean to be intimidating. Actually, if you get to know me you will find I am actually quite riddled with self-doubt and really want to be nice and friendly to everyone. I also assume (apparently also in error) you know all the same stuff I do. I figure you read the same things I read and you have the same innate curiosity. This is not my fault. I do not mean to wonder “why” all the time. I can’t help it. I want to understand.

When I speak to you in a direct and polite tone to inquire about a patient’s condition, you do not get to ignore me or refuse to answer my questions. The same goes for me. If you ask me a question or want to tell me something, I don’t get to refuse to acknowledge you. Sorry, that is not the way adult life works. More importantly, it is not the way professionals behave. Let’s take this out of health care. What if a teacher refused to acknowledge a child or parent who was speaking to them? What if a lawyer refused to speak to the bailiff? We are all adults. You don’t have to be buddies with someone in order to speak to them. It’s your JOB!

I have noticed certain behavior tends to lead to a higher likelihood of possible promotion within any business. You have to be able to get along with all kinds of people. Now, what do you do when you really don’t want to? Perhaps they have done something to insult you. Maybe you just don’t like the pants they wear. It turns out, you have to continue to be nice.

You cannot under any circumstances yell out across the room and demand to know the source of their douchebaggery. Don’t worry, I did not actually do that. (at least not recently.) I only considered it for a few moments. You cannot point out all the ways they have pissed you off. You cannot spell out how wrong they are about what ever topics you believe they are wrong about. You cannot stomp your feet and throw a fit. You have to be nice. Watch your tone. Don’t get defensive or offensive. Stay neutral.

It is hard. Sometimes your inner 12-year-old comes flying to the front of your brain, and it takes every thing you have to hold her at bay. Trust me, this is best.

Throwing a fit or retaliating will only lead to further breakdown in communication. In light of your desire to promote good patient care, you cannot afford to hamper effective communication in any way. So, you ignore your pride. You don’t let your fragile feelings be hurt. You know how to do the right thing. Just be nice. Dammit.

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