Can One Nurse with a Positive Attitude Make a Difference?
Most of us have been faced with a less than ideal work environment due to conflicts among colleagues. This is one nurse’s story about determining to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
When I recently accepted a position in a new unit, I have to confess that I dreamed of a unit that was free from gossip, where nurses built each other up instead of tearing down and laughter was commonplace. However, this was not the environment that I walked into...
The unit was divided into conflicting teams – A and B. As you usually find in a divisive environment, there was less than flattering talk – day shift against night and A team against B team. Upon accepting the new position I learned that my schedule would include working on both A and B teams. I have to admit I was a little nervous. I would need to learn how to survive and thrive on both conflicting teams. This was just the right time to test a few principles I have learned to implement in my personal life and see how they fare in the workplace.
I have a reputation that I will not engage or listen to gossip in the workplace. In fact, I will often compliment the person who is being slandered. This almost always brings the conversation to a halt. This can be awkward in the beginning, but people remember the awkwardness and don’t want to repeat it. The gossip stops – at least in your presence. This practice also helps build trust, because your coworker knows you will not talk about them behind their back or listen to others who spread gossip about them.
Celebrate and Build Up
Tired of working around jealousy and competition, I attempted to create a new environment in my unit.
- I started by writing several staff members up for awards, then celebrating with them when they got publicly recognized.
- I put together a ‘how-to’ guide on getting promoted and assisted several staff members in writing their own evaluations. When they were promoted I brought in the cake. I was surprised to find out that others wanted to join in as well and it turned into a potluck party!
Through this process, I discovered how fulfilling it can be to help others achieve their professional goals. The feeling on the unit was changing, we were laughing more and there was a growing feeling of trust and reliance on each other. My unit was changing and getting better, I certainly felt it myself and was enjoying work more.
Maybe we have more influence on our workplace environment than we think? These popular song lyrics describe this idea beautifully:
“Man in the Mirror” Lyrics by Siedah Garrett
I'm gonna make a change,
For once in my life
It's gonna feel real good,
Gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right
I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.
What I learned this year is that people are inspired to change when they see someone else living it out. People will imitate behaviors they admire, so the behavior of one person can change the whole unit! It certainly cannot hurt to try to improve your home away from home by implementing some good changes.
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About the Author: Jolinda Chrisman, RN is a guest writer for Flexwise Health and an ICU Critical Care RN in a Bone Marrow Transplant Unit working for the VA hospital.