This is a true story about the power of positive speaking and the destruction complaining can cause.
Welcome to the Club
I worked with a new graduate nurse who had given up her full time position to take a part time job at the hospital where I worked as an agency nurse. When most new nurses would be excited at learning and taking on more, she was decreasing her hours. Why would someone be cutting back so soon after starting their career?
It turned out that the negative attitude and conversation of the work place was like a cancer eating her up within her soul. Yet this cancer was not as overt as a disease. It was covertly disguised as a club. She was unwittingly becoming an honorary member of the exclusive club that had members throughout the hospital.
She was being inducted into the club even though she didn't want to. It was not her nature.
What was her nature was to use positive speaking about any one or thing.
This club is known in nursing circles as the BMW Club (blame, moan, and whine club). Subtle attempts to induct her into the club were affecting her so much that the only way she could save her self from the effects of the negative influences was quitting.
She needed a change. She wanted a culture that encouraged positive speaking. A culture that encouraged up building speech. That change was in reality an escape.
Are You A Blame Caster?
One of the skill sets of the staff she was escaping from and refusing to learn is known as blame casting. A blame caster gets empowerment from blaming everyone else for the problems in life they experience.
It is quite exciting when you think about it. You can go through your entire life and not take responsibility for anything. All you do is blame someone or something. Blame casters do not like positive speaking and up building speech.
It can be illustrated by an experience one day on the job.
This true, on the job experience is embarrassing to share. It is about the profession I love dearly and is not typical of the majority of those I have worked with in numerous hospitals. There are many nurses who are positive speaking every day of their lives.
The BMW Of The Year Award Goes To....
One day, a nurse came up to me and complained about someone or something that was left undone by a nurse on a different floor.
"The nerve of that person… Can you believe it." she said.
I couldn't help but to retort, "That was wrong! She should be fired!"
Needless to say, that was not what she wanted to hear. She looked at me as though I had two heads. My dear in the headlights colleague wasn't looking for a solution, she was just having a bad hair day and, well, there was nothing wrong with her hair.
Perhaps she needed to vent frustration. Perhaps she was looking for validation to build her self up. To accomplish this though, she was tearing someone else down.
She moved on to others repeating similar negative comments about her colleague, to five more nurses and then a doctor. Fortuitously the supervisor happened on the floor and after telling her story one last time, we didn’t have to hear about it any more.
Oh the blaming continued. The names of the blamee's were changed but the blaming continued the same. Blaming was after all the focus of this exclusive club.
Not being allowed membership within the club, I do not know for sure but it is possible this nurse with having a bad hair day was the president of the club. I am almost certain she won the Blame Caster of the Year award for her performance that day.
As to the Supervisor that day, she must have been a misplaced angel to patiently listen to such complaints day in and out.
The word complaint is used in the context of stating a problem while not desiring a solution. Problems demand solutions, complaints don't. They are counter productive and debilitating. It must also be said, the supervisors are among the most positive speaking in the entire staff of this hospital.
Life is Full of What Ever We Focus On
If you think about it, life is full of injustices and wrongs. Life is full of things we could complain about. If we need to be reminded of those wrongs every moment of every day, our priorities are in the wrong place.
There are numerous ways to use positive speaking in our daily lives. That is, if we want to. It comes down to what is our focus.
Yet charter members of the BMW club will come back with, "I am just telling it like it is," or "I am just telling the truth."
The problem with that statement is that there are so many good truths to focus on, why focus on the ones that cannot be changed. At the least give equal time to the good. Use positive speaking along with the negative.
How Can I Improve
Mental exercise to improve your ability to see the good in others and apply positive speaking.
Any time you hear a colleague complain (no solution) about someone or thing, come back tactfully with something positive about that person or situation.
For instance, someone says, "Have you ever noticed that _________always...(supply some appropriate complaint here). Your reply, "That may be true but have you also noticed that...(supply your own appropriate positive commendation here)".
You may run out of things to say about some. Give it your best try. Some years ago my colleagues put me to the test. They challenged me to find something good to say about the Devil.
It was rather easy, "He is a hard worker." I responded. Positive speaking will always prevail if you choose to use it.
There are some instances where positive speaking, although well meaning, would be inappropriate.
If someone just lost a child, for example, to say, ‘perhaps God needed another angel' might be considered positive by some but not very comforting.
That baby was greatly wanted and needed by his mother and father. (Wouldn’t it also be accusing God of being unloving and uncaring at a time when those parents need to feel close to the comforting strength of their God?).
Rather just express how unimaginable their pain must be. Then offer... if there is anything you can do please let me know. Your care will speak volumes.
As to our chronic complainer mentioned at the outset, being an outsider, I didn't try to help her. Positive speaking has limitations. However I did work with a new graduate nurse and a new inductee into the club. This is also a true story except for the name.
A Positive Speaking Success Story
One New Years Eve, Nurse Randy, about 6 months on the job, complained to me about a nurse on the 8th floor. A patient had just been transferred to her from there.
There was something or some detail that was not completed prior to the transfer. The traditional complaint was soon to follow for all the staff to hear. Since it was New Years Eve, Randy and I were all the staff. The others were on break.
Unfortunately, or maybe for her sake, fortunately, Randy had never worked on the 8th floor. She did not realize this was a very challenging floor to work on. It was a unit where all of the patients that didn’t fall into any specific specialty ended up.
In other words, all the bone related patients were sent to Orthopedics, another floor dealt just with Heart patients, and a third floor dealt only with Respiratory patients. The Eighth floor though, received almost everything else.
Because of the variety severity of health problems treated on this floor, on the continuum of best to worse places to work, this would rank near Dante's Hell. Most nurses only have a day or two a year that are really bad. This was an entire floor where every day seemed that way.
I have visited that place Dante wrote about five times in various hospitals. I often speak of only truly having to ‘work’ five days in my whole career as a nurse. That is because only five days in my career were so stressful that it even felt like work. Nursing is otherwise that great of a profession.
My first time working on the 8th floor was one of those five bad days in my career. I do not believe the nurses there even take a break or stop for lunch. Perhaps they do not think they even know they were entitled.
To me, they are nursing gods (god defined as powerful person). What they had to accomplish and did accomplish was a testament to best of the profession can produce. They were the best of the best.
A bad day put in perspective.
To put it in perspective consider one evening at a different hospital when I experienced my first of my five bad days.
Two post-operative patients started having chest pain. That is bad. Unfortunately they both had it at the same time. Even with the chaos, as the other nurses had their own crisis at the same time, it was an environment where we all used positive speaking and up building speech.
Even though we could not help one another at this moment, words of encouragement and concern kept flying as we passed one another. That was one of the ways we supported each other.
Worse than two patients with chest pain, a third patient was not at the same level of consciousness from earlier in the shift. Several doctors had looked at her and based on the tests were not finding any significant reason.
Yet I knew something was wrong. I was doing a double (16 hour shift) and personally saw the changes. I, for one believe 12 and 16 hour shifts are great because of the continuity of care they offer the patient. Even more so, I have had several instances like this that gave me greater influence and power in the patient care. It allowed me to personally witness the change in status.
Imagine being a nurse (less educated than a doctor) and asking a 6th doctor to look at a patient five others looked at already, because you feel something was missed although not knowing what.
Thankfully the 6th doctor found the problem. I believe this day was one of those that Dante wrote about. Positive speaking doesn't require avoidance of the nagging of your heart when you think something is wrong.
Needless to say, also having experienced one of those five days on the Eighth floor, you better not complain about the nurses from there unless you worked side by side with them. (If you want to become a truly great nurse, this is the floor to train on.)
So the day Randy complained about the 8th floor, I looked her in the eye and to make sure I had her attention saying her name began, "Randy, that's not like you to complain about your colleagues."
She replied, "You know, its not." This was followed by an apology and never to hear her do it again, at least to me.
The BMW Club lost a member that day.
The BMW Club will probably live on. If not, what will the members do? How can they survive? If there weren’t staffing shortages, if people didn’t make mistakes, if they had a perfect world, they would be helpless, not having anyone or anything to blame. They like the reality they live in, otherwise they would tell it ‘like it is.' Their 'like it is' refers to the antithesis of positive speaking.
Like It Is
The "like it is" they live in is a life full of problems and wrongs. To feel better, they need to blame someone. It seems easier to blame someone than acting to make the world or even work place a better palace to be. To blame and complain is a God given right. To forgive unthinkable. You will find them positively speaking of all the negative things in their life and world.
"Like it is" of our work place includes every day, some of the best nurses on the planet who save peoples lives, be it patients, colleagues, or even their own.
It includes those nurses who go above and beyond the call of duty. It includes some great doctors who sacrifice time with family and friends to fulfill their dedication. Doctors who respect and yes, even ask nurses their professional opinion, recognizing we are professionals.
Among all of these are ones who use positive speaking as something that is coming from inside them.
You will not see this, if you're looking for the negative things in life to tell about, like it is. Like it is people cannot see the good. They cannot understand positive speaking until they make a total change in the way they think and see things. They need an altered reality.
The reality of "Like it is" includes the wonderful supervisors, truly great humans all who have to make hard decisions, try to be fair, and yet still look at the best interest of the patients and meet the needs of their staff. They are directly involved in saving peoples lives by choices they make yet never get to see the lives saved, rarely if ever get to hear a 'thank you' or ‘good job.'
It also includes those supervisors who worry about those of us on the floor. They are concerned about staffing ratios but nobody would even know.
These are the ones who always offer a shoulder to cry on. They worry about a nurse going home and falling asleep at the wheel after a night shift. With all this they have to maintain positive speaking, they after all have to set the example.
These are the ones who have to hear every day, "I can’t today because…and then call someone who would otherwise be taking a day off." Does anyone ever say thank you? After all, that is 'like it is."
As to the president of the BMW club, the recipient of the Blame Caster of the year award, it turns out she was not having a bad hair day. She was having a bad hair life. That is so sad. What a host of wonderful things were probably happening every day that she couldn’t see because of all the bad things that clouded her vision.
The new grad that changed to a part time schedule, I don’t know what happened to her. I stopped working there too.
Sometimes you will not have the power to change things. Sometimes the only thing you can do is move on.
My heart goes out to the great nurses who work there who have no choice but to stay there. Maybe some day, someone will be able to kick the BMW club out of the hospital never to return. May some day a culture of positive speaking infect the entire hospital.
Some of us are like flowers, re-pot us in different soil and we could flourish. If you can not bring a culture of positive speaking then moving on might be the only option. In job hunting, only select those places of employment that positive speaking is part of the culture.
May all of your speaking be positive speaking.
Note... This is one of my favorite subjects to speak on. For more information on booking me contact me through any of my contact forms or the e-mail on this site.
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