Today, my youngest was sick at school and I had to pick him up midway through the day. I was able to actually look around the school office for a moment, and found this sign.
Your coworker is late, it is the third time in as many weeks. She has a sick mom, and has been taking care of her. Her routine is not settling down as fast as she would like. She has two children to take to school, her husband isn’t home to take the kids to school because he works nights, and her mother needs medications in the morning. Because she has new onset dementia and a recently replaced hip, your coworker is concerned about her compliance with her medications and nutrition, as well as her ADL’s.
Your coworker arrives, 20 minutes late. You have things to do this morning, and she has put you way behind. You are back at work for 12 hours tonight, and you didn’t get all the sleep you wanted yesterday either.
How do you respond?
“You are always late now! Aren’t you going to get a home health aide or something?”
- Is it TRUE that your coworker is always late? No. She has been late three times in three weeks after a life-changing event.
- Is it HELPFUL to say this, at this moment in time? No. Your coworker is stressed out because of her recent life changes, and is probably very embarrassed about being late all of a sudden. It will likely make her defensive, and then she has to go deal with an entire nursing assignment all day, knowing you are angry.
- Is it INSPIRING to say this? No. Telling someone that they are not meeting your expectations is never inspiring for them. Suggesting a solution can be.
- Is it NECESSARY to say this? No, your coworker knows she is late. She knows that she is inconveniencing you. And if you would like to address it, now is not the time anyway. Not when you are upset.
- Is this a KIND thing to say? Obviously not. It may make you feel better initially because you were able to vent, but it will make you feel worse after you have time to think about it.
How about this?
“Janie, I know you are having a hard time. I hope your mom is ok. I don’t want you to get in trouble for tardy arrivals. Maybe you should think about hiring a home health aide to give you a hand. You have to be tired.”
- It is true, she is having a hard time.
- It was helpful to suggest a home health aide.
- It is inspiring for her to know that there is help available, and that her work family has her back.
- It is necessary to address at some point, because you are being totally inconvenienced.
- It was said kindly, and may really help your coworker realize that she has a really full plate and needs help.
Maybe we can work toward this. We are so kind to our patients. Maybe we need to THINK before we react in these situations.
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