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Respect for Self and Others is Fundamental to Positive Change

My primary point in this blogpost is to suggest that the best human beings have to offer with any goal or initiative will arise in part out of respect for self and others.  I’ll try to articulate this more in words, but you might prefer to watch this video of starlings!





Isn’t it amazing how responsive and flowing they are?   How they don’t bump into each other?  How they are aart-of-nursing2ll participating? Who is leading? Who is following?  In my mind, this fluid interconnectedness relates to the art of nursing and how we navigate change.  Individually and together.

If you are a nurse, you know that everything is changing almost all the time.  Patient’s statuses are changing by the minute, there are new orders for patient care by the hour, there is new technology, treatments, and data every day, staff are coming and going, alarms are going off, and changes in organizational policies, protocols, and initiatives every week.

As a nurse, you are a change agent and have both daunting responsibilities and exciting opportunities to ensure that patients are getting the safest, most cost-effective, compassionate, and high quality care all the time.  Your own health is very important to this process as is that of your team-mates and the organizations you are working in and for.

What does respect for self and others have to do with navigating change?

Everything! We have to weave in and out of leadership and followership roles while bringing our best selves forward and encouraging others to do the same…not be the same, but be their best while honoring our own and others’ limitations.  We’re adapting and flexing, in the moment, together as we navigate each hour of each shift. We are individuals and members of teams and complex adaptive systems.  This means that both self and other are vital.  For starlings, respect might translate into don’t get too close or too far away from your neighbors, head in roughly the same direction, try to go about the same speed as those nearby.  But what does respect in humans look like?

Respecting yourself means you:
  • Are in touch with your feelings and honor them, e.g. it is ok to feel tired, confident, worried, curious, etc
  • Know that saying “No” can be healthy for you, your patients, colleagues, teams, and organizations.
  • Value your ideas, knowledge, and experiences and don’t hesitate to make suggestions for solving problems or new ways of doing things
  • Know it is ok to ask for help or say you don’t know something and that you deserve to get help or more training
  • Can take in constructive feedback and learn from it graciously and with your head held up high whether you agree with it or not.

Respecting others means you:
  • Are aware that others are experiencing the world differently and just as validly as you are and that they may be feeling e.g. tired, confident, worried, curious, etc.
  • Are curious about what others’ limitations are without judgement.
  • Value and consider other people’s ideas for problem solving or new ways of doing things including those of patients, families, colleagues, leaders, and followers
  • Accept that others will know things you don’t and be grateful for and open to diversity
  • Offer constructive feedback to others in kindness and without an agenda about what they will do with it.
We humans are mysterious and diverse creatures with so much to offer!  How do you think respect for self and others plays into our outcomes?


Guest post by Beth Boynton RN, MS

Beth Boynton, RN, MS, is a nurse consultant, author, and teacher specializing in communication and collaboration among healthcare professionals and within organizations. She offers interactive workshops, leadership coaching, a ‘whole systems’ approach for culture change efforts, and a new method for building ‘people skills’ called ‘Medical Improv’. She has recently completed her second book, a core text called: Successful Nurse Communication: Safe Care, Healthy Workplaces, and Rewarding Careers which is scheduled to be published by F.A. Davis Publishing Co. Spring 2015. She writes about related issues at, “Confident Voices in Healthcare” blog. Her video, “Interruption Awareness: A Nursing Minute for Patient Safety,” and blog have drawn audiences from all over the world. She is trained in the Professor Watson Curriculum for Medical Improv through Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She has one grown son who is works in India, loves improv, Zumba dancing, walking, and swimming, and lives in Portsmouth, NH.

You may view Beth's online contiuing education course - 4 Essential Stratefies that Promote Patient Safety. This is a 2 contact hour course that features Beth in 10 short video's designed to engage and teach the student.  This instructional continuing education course is designed for nurses who are in direct care or middle management positions in hospitals; long-term care facilities, and other frontline in- and out-patient practice settings.  Despite 15 years of national focus on improving patient safety outcomes, we continue to have staggering statistics involving preventable deaths, illnesses, and injuries that are due to medical errors. And because communication breakdowns and associated problems with inter-professional relationships have long been major contributors to these alarming problems it is imperative for nurses to develop skills and promote positive interpersonal dynamics. Respectful interactions and effective communication seem simple on paper, yet successful efforts to practice them in the field remain elusive.  In this course, students will examine patient safety statistics and root cause analysis data in order to understand the scope of the problem and how persistent issues with communication and human dynamics are interfering with providing safe care.  This foundation will provide the incentive to commit to exploring and practicing communication strategies that will help to solve them. A basic knowledge of assertiveness, listening, and emotional intelligence is required as students take a ‘deeper dive’ with Beth Boynton, RN, MS to develop their abilities to:  set limits, delegate tasks, and give and receive constructive feedback.


Posted: 5/12/2015 9:58:35 AM
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