We all are responsible for promoting a practice environment that supports responsibility, professional development and a respectful attitude. At times, this may appear easier said than done when we work with people who use different communication styles. Let’s look at the following scenario to help assist you in communicating with someone who has a different communication style.
Alma Comms RN started in a new position just over 2 years ago. Since it took her some time to adapt to the new pace and workplace expectations, she only recently felt comfortable to volunteer for training in a new practice when no one else volunteered.
At the staff meeting, the Team Manager asked her to speak to these training sessions. She was not prepared as she would have liked since it was an extremely busy morning. She let her team know that she hadn’t prepared a formal presentation, but shared as much as she could and promised to send out the information after the meeting.
A team member sitting beside her responded quietly, “That sure wasn’t your best.”
Alma didn’t know how to respond. She thought “Should I have said or done more? Does anyone else on my team feel this way? Should I address this now?”
How might Alma respond?
Alma reflected on her thoughts and decided that not responding to her co-worker in that moment was the best option, however; Alma was still upset and knew she had to address it.
She learned through observation that making similar remarks or ignoring potential issues is not good for the team. As she continued to think through her options she decided to discuss it directly with the team member who made the comment before discussing this with anyone else at work.
Alma mentally prepared as this team member could respond in a variety of ways. It could be a positive response where they come to a mutual understanding or it could be a negative response, filled with defensiveness and even minimization of the situation. Alma considered a potential exit statement, “Can I get back to you later today after I think through your points?” that she could adapt just in case the conversation went sideways.
On their next shift together, Alma asked if they could have a word in private. Agreeing, they went into a meeting room and Alma shared “In the staff meeting, I noted your comment ‘That sure wasn’t your best’ and I’m wondering what you hoped I would take away from that?”
Sighing, her co-worker responded, “It isn’t you. We’ve all been under a lot of stress and I just don’t like when someone gets off-site training and no additional staff is replaced during that shift. I’m talking to our Manager to see if something can be done.”
Alma feeling relieved and wanting to set good expectation and communication skills responded with, “OK, I appreciate your feedback. I’m not sure you noticed I was embarrassed when you made that comment. Moving forward, can you come directly to me in private if you have comments about my work or our workplace relationship?”
Her team member agreed and Alma felt good that she listened and expressed herself.
Stay tuned, in a future spotlight, we will explore strategies for a more negative reaction to a perspective check.