Nursing is a profession which does not merely address the physiological needs of our patients. Rather, our profession’s art of caring entails the wholeness of a person which also includes the emotional, spiritual and psychological aspects of their being. As nurses, part of our everyday routine is to encounter people from different walks of life. With this, we also experience emotional stresses as we meet the demands of our work.
Oftentimes, our patients and their relatives verbalize all their dilemmas and worries about their present situation. Hence, as part of human nature, we tend to empathize with them. Sometimes we even bring these feelings at home. In the latter part, this may possibly affect our personal life and our relationship with our families.
Aside from this, there are times that our patients yell at us due to various reasons. Maybe, they are experiencing severe pain that makes them irritable; hence, they refuse to interact with us. Maybe, they are also faced with financial constraints; hence, they are preoccupied with the possible consequences of being sick not just to their body but to their family’s economic status as well.
However, in worse scenarios, other patients especially those who come from well-off families, yell at their nurses thinking that they are superior and nurses should follow everything they say. Whatever reason they have, we should understand their situation. Yet, we should be assertive in dealing with them for us to gain their trust and for us to gain confidence.
Here are some of the most effective ways to deal with aggressive clients:
- Deal with aggressive clients calmly and confidently. Show them that you have the ability to manage the situation.
- Once you’ve said that you’ll get back after a certain period of time, keep your promise. For example, if you said “Sir, I’ll be back after 15 minutes”, be back after 15 minutes, not after 20 minutes.
- If you are not busy, respond to their call promptly. Do not ignore the buzzing of call lights though you feel exhausted.
- Answer their questions briefly, truthfully and understandably. Never use jargons which can possibly make them unable to completely understand the message you would like to convey.
Through these, you will be able to gradually build rapport not only with your patients but also with their relatives. All of the scenarios mentioned above fall under the issue of professionalism.
Professionalism is merely a single word but it takes a great responsibility among us nurses. In view of the fact that we generally care for people who are suffering, we cannot deny that most of their stories greatly influence our emotions. We even experience this so-called “countertransference” which is referred to as emotional entanglement with a client. Sometimes you may feel the same way as what your client feels because you’ve been in that situation.
To avoid countertransference, here are four simple tips for you:
- Know yourself. To avoid the so-called “countertransference”, you have to be aware of your own personalities and experiences to help you know your own strengths and weaknesses. Doing such will help you gain understanding on how to use yourself therapeutically. For example, if you know that you have the same experience as your client, you may act as a counselor because you’ve been in their shoes. I’m sure you can give a good advice because you’ve been there and was able to surpass that situation.
- Avoid what makes you weak. In contrast to Tip #1, you may also avoid discussing a certain experience with a client because though you were in the same situation, you are aware that it was one of your weaknesses – may it be a sensitive matter you do not want to discuss or a particular topic you are not comfortable with. Through this, you will be able to prevent the aggravation of your client’s feelings.
- Leave personal matters at home and leave professional matters at work. If you had a conflict with your family, do not bring with you all your negative feelings. This will surely affect the efficiency of care and the way you deal with your clients. You may be unable to perform your duties well because you are preoccupied with the misunderstandings with your family. On the other hand, if you had some misunderstandings with your colleagues, never bring negative feelings at home. Though, you may also share your emotions with your family because I’m sure they will understand.
- Never take it personally. Just what was mentioned above, there may be times that your patients will yell at you due to various reasons.Never allow these negative experiences question your competency. Instead, take these as constructive criticisms to further improve your abilities as a nurse.
- Maintain integrity at work. If you commit an error, never keep it to yourself and never hesitate to tell other members of the health team. It is better to put your patient’s welfare first.
As nurses and as a member of a family, we cannot really avoid circumstances such as conflict within the family, arguments with our colleagues and emotional strain as we see the suffering of our patients which may possibly lead to stress and fatigue. We just have to learn how to deal with it by knowing the coping mechanisms to help us adapt with the situation.