As nurses, we often have friends both inside and outside of the healthcare world. And honestly, there are some things that non-nurses just don’t really seem to “get” about our jobs. Every day, we run into new challenges and don’t know what kind of craziness we’re going to see next. Plus, we deal with serious life or death emergencies on a daily basis. By comparison, the work problems our friends in sales or marketing have just don’t seem all that important.
It’s hard sometimes to really relate to your friends who don’t work in nursing, but these tips can help you be a good friend and try to relate.
Try to see things from their perspective.
When you just helped save a patient’s life after a cardiac arrest, it’s hard to sympathize with a friend who’s bummed out from their sales job because they lost the Johnson account. Nurses and other healthcare professionals deal with life and death, facing mortality every day. We have a pretty good perspective on what really matters, and in comparison, everyday problems that other people have at their jobs can seem kind of mundane and unimportant by comparison. But still, it’s important to try to empathize with other people and to understand how they feel.
Talk about things other than work.
Work isn’t the only topic of conversation, of course. People bond with others over all kinds of shared interests and activities. Whether it’s the latest season of Game of Thrones, or that book you both read for the book club you’re in, there’s plenty of other stuff to talk about. Sometimes it’s much easier to relate to people this way, rather than trying to find common ground when it comes to workplace concerns. Nursing is one of the nation’s largest professions in terms of the number of workers, but it’s also very unique in many ways.
Save the “shop talk” for your friends that are in nursing.
When you need to vent about something related to work, it’s often best to talk to a friend that truly gets what you’re going through. While it’s always a good idea to have friends outside of work, there’s also a lot of value in making close “work friends,” with whom you can privately gripe about job-related problems. Believe it or not, nurses are very prone to burnout and job dissatisfaction, compared to people in other unrelated professions. Camaraderie with other nurses can go a long way toward helping you cope with the inevitable stress that comes with our profession.
Be a good listener.
Any relationship is a two-way exchange. It’s important to be a good listener and to focus on other people rather than just yourself. Rather than talking their ear off about your own day at work, try asking about theirs.
Be careful about griping about work on social media.
No one likes a “vaguebooker.” You know, the people who always have some unidentified problem, which inevitably garners tons of sympathy in their Facebook comments. But at the same time, there are times when it’s very unwise to share certain details. While social media can have some positive effects for the nursing profession, such as fostering professional connections and providing you with an outlet to vent your frustrations, caution is definitely needed to navigate potential patient privacy and confidentiality concerns.
Chances are, your workplace does have social media guidelines in place that employees can use as a reference. But not only does too much frustrated, negative social media venting put you at risk of accidentally violating patient confidentiality, but it can also be a turnoff for your friends and acquaintances that view your posts.
Being a Good Friend Goes Beyond the Workplace
As nurses, we go through things on a daily basis that a lot of our non-nurse friends just can’t really seem to relate to. But that’s okay. By finding other things to talk about and other ways to bond, we can avoid feeling alienated because of our occupation.