Last week we talked about self-awareness as a path to a better work day. This week we are going to build on that and also talk about an aspect of nursing communication: emotional expression. And not just any emotional expression—it is about acknowledging and expressing anger, which is something many fear or avoid at their own peril.
Do you realize you are communicating even when you are not saying anything? Body language, facial expressions, tone and your words send a message to people around you. In this series on Resilience and Emotional Intelligence we are going to explore the secret to extraordinary communication between healthcare professionals.
Last week, we talked about Lee Ann’s abrupt response to a simple request as a result of her preoccupation with her own stressors. Unaware that the stress response was triggered, Lee Ann went through her day reacting and exploding without being aware of the impact on others.
How Anger Works
Anger releases a cascade of biochemicals changing the ability to connect with others, show empathy or compassion. This challenges your nursing communication and interferes with the ability to convey trust. Without trust and communication it is near impossible to have effective and positive work relationships.
Before Lee Ann ever snapped at Jen, she was already giving off tense and irritated signals letting everyone know to stay away. When anger becomes more chronic, one loses the ability to exercise good judgment due to the changes in the prefrontal cortex.
Grumbling leads to growling and even more anger, especially when you do not keep close tabs on what emotions are coming up. We shared the exercise of breathing deliberately in on a count of 4 and then exhaling on a count of 4 to tune into what you are experiencing. The more you use this simple breathing technique the quicker you will become aware of any anger that might be building.
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