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No One Gets to be Wrong
11/13/2006 6:45:15 PM
By Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN
Have you ever been told you were wrong for feeling a certain way or for expressing an opinion that was contrary to the beliefs of others? How did it feel? It's happened to each of us at some point, and it never feels good. You feel as though you are being judged and not accepted for who you are. It often makes you question yourself, your beliefs, and your decisions. And if your sense of self or self-esteem is already somewhat fragile, it can make you shrink and withdraw, or become resentful and angry.
As a leader, you want to create an environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves, so you need to be a model. This means you set the tone of your unit or department (and your family and community) through your actions and words.
There are three things to consider: The first is that everyone is right in their own minds. Given the information they have right now, their background, experience, and education, they have formulated certain conclusions, and to this person, those conclusions make sense. They have the right to think the way they do. Hopefully, they are open to receive new information so they can learn and grow. They may not be. And that is not about you; it's about them
The second is that language matters. Say what you need to say but in a way that respects the other person. For instance, you can offer an opinion as a suggestion, "Perhaps you could consider …" instead of a demand, "Don't do it that way. It's done this way." As a leader, sometimes you do need to be direct and tell people to do things a certain way. But even then, tell the person what you need them to know without putting them down for not doing it right. "If you do it this way, then you are going to get the result we are looking for."
The third thing to know is that sometimes people make mistakes. The person lacks knowledge or is ill-informed. Remember that in their mind, they are right and you cannot dispute that. If you try, you'll find yourself in an argument. Instead, frame your comments in a way that softens the impact so that the person will be receptive to hearing you. Begin the conversation by trying to understand their perspective and their reasons for acting the way they did. Then you can share your perspective or offer new information for them to come to different conclusions.
People do the very best they know how to do in any given moment. Sometimes, people need more information or they need direction. Treating them as wrong makes the person feel "less than." The impact is to diminish the person, perhaps elevate yourself, and create an environment of hierarchy and judgment which sounds like, "I know better than you." And translates to, "You are bad. I am good." This kind of environment feels bad!
By operating under the framework that people are inherently good and by accepting people right where they are in their own personal evolution, you allow people the freedom to express themselves and this is the path to creating an environment rich with respect and compassion. With each encounter, treat others in a way that demonstrates respect for who they are. Make it safe for them to be themselves. You'll start to experience an uplifting and positive environment where people appreciate each other and welcome each other's comments and feedback.
People inherently want to learn and to grow. They want to access their potential; they just don't always know how. By making it safe for people to access their greatness, we create an environment that nurtures our success as individuals, as organizations and as human beings.
Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN is the co-founder of Nurturing Your Success Inc., a dynamic organization leading the cultural transformation movement for a professional healthcare environment. We offer keynotes, workshops, and coaching for leaders and teams. Julie is also the author of The Journey Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and Acceptance, the manual for personal leadership. To learn more about how we can partner with you to nurture your success, call 610-277-2726, email Julie@nurturingyoursuccess.com or visit Nurturing Your Success, and sign up for our empowering newsletter.
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