As healthcare professionals we are often dependent upon others for validation of our skills and competency. When others are supportive, encouraging, or praise the job we are doing it may make us feel satisfied with our careers; however, when people are judgmental, critical, or abusive toward us, we may find ourselves questioning our judgement, skills, or even the profession we've chosen. Taking things personally is often a by-product of our professions. When we take things personally we are giving others more power over us than they should be allowed to have. It causes stress, emotional turmoil, and sometimes even physical distress.
Instead of reacting when someone pushes your buttons, here are a few things to consider when you find yourself caught up in an interaction that challenges your personal or professional judgement:
- Put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand what the other person is feeling or thinking. Is this the way they interact with others and not just you? Many times are patients are angry with at a new diagnosis and they project it onto you.
- Don't jump to conclusions too quickly. As previously stated, oftentimes patients are angry and their perceptions and misconceptions onto you. In fact, it’s almost always about them. Their fear leads them to desire to control the situation.
- Take a break. Your initial response might be to react emotionally. If possible, don’t. Take the time to control your emotions and assess what’s really happening, before you respond.
- When YOU are ready, talk about the situation. By this time, you should be able to place your emotions on the back seat. In some cases, they may not realize how aggressive or rude they have been. If it becomes clear that he or she can not respect you, then remove yourself from the situation.