Nurses are truly amazing human beings! Even during times of personal or professional chaos, we are able to hide our feelings behind a caring smile, offering quality care to our patients.
Nurses are a crucial part of their teams, made up of co-workers and people from a variety of professional backgrounds – both within the health care setting and outside of it. Unfortunately, there can be a few co-workers who have difficulty remaining positive, lashing out all too often with rude or nasty behavior that shows up in the workplace. This kind of attitude affects the entire team, and can impact the level of care provided to patients. Those co-workers that display a lack of kindness towards others create an acidic work environment for everyone; fortunately, there are things the rest of us can do in order to establish and maintain a culture of kindness in the workplace:
Be a Shining Example of Kindness
Lead by example in all of your interactions with coworkers. Simply using words like “please” and “thank you” goes a long way towards fostering a kinder work environment. When asked about your always sunny disposition, respond that you are focusing on being kind to everyone to create a better work place. This will encourage your peers to work with you towards the same goal.
If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…
Our culture teaches us that criticism is acceptable, yet the truth is, it is not always conducive to a healthy work environment. Resist the urge to be pulled into coffee clutches that involve gossip or petty criticism. Focus instead on the performance of your peers, pointing out their great qualities as a nurse. This is especially true if you are in a position of nursing authority. When you do note a professional fault, address the person discreetly and directly rather than making their mistake fodder for more gossip.
Give a Warm Welcome to New Faces
The new nurses are often the ones that get the most abuse at work. Turn this around by embracing their presence and making them feel welcome instantly. Introduce yourself, explain what your role is, and then take the time to show them around. We have all been the new face on the floor at some point in our careers and know exactly how hard that can be. It is even harder if a part of your struggle involves trying to fit in with your unkind co-workers.
Applaud Others’ Achievements
There is no room for blatant envy in a culture of kindness. When a fellow nurse makes a great save or earns a secondary diploma, applaud that achievement loudly. Encourage other nurses to do the same. Not only does this behavior foster kindness, it encourages other nurses to try harder and reach their own professional goals.
Be Open to New Ideas
It is important to recognize that a difference in approach or methodology is just that, a difference. Open your mind to the new ideas that nurses bring to the table and you may find that their approach is not as crazy or far-fetched as you initially thought. At the very least, give them the respect of listening to what they have to offer before dismissing an idea entirely.
Extend Kindness to Everyone
Your focus may be on creating kindness for your individual office or floor, but it should include all other individuals who enter it. This means being kind to health care professionals from all departments, not just the nurses that you are directly working with. Avoid the temptation to create “turf” wars in your facility as a method of building solidarity within your own group. This team building strategy does not work in a health care environment, especially where patients rely on multiple individuals for good outcomes.
Most of us are spending over 2,000 hours a year with our nursing co-workers. Why not make those hours as pleasant as possible with a kind workplace? Being kind does not require any special training or extra money. The only thing you need to do is be aware of how you are treating those around you and make a concerted effort to ensure that it is always in a way that you would like to be treated.