Almost everyone agrees that creating a healthy work environment for nurses is critical for recruitment and retention. What we don’t usually agree on is what the best practices for a healthy environment are. That said, many nurses I have talked to in my private practice want genuine and meaningful interaction at work. They seek this authenticity from their leadership and it seems that it can help create that healthy work environment.
This is what we’ll talk about here in Part 10 of our 16-week series on emotional intelligence.
Authenticity may be essential, but it requires a degree of vulnerability, which can be scary for some. Yet showing this is necessary, according to Brene Brown, a researcher on vulnerability, shame, and courage. For Brown, the ability to be vulnerable and authentic leads one to live a heart-centered life. This sounds great, especially given the risk for compassion fatigue and burnout in nursing. A heart-based approach could well prevent these occupational hazards.
Here is the challenge: being authentic at work can backfire. Sharing deeply does not always work out.
True intimacy takes time. Dumping personal information is not the same thing as being authentic or vulnerable. Sharing thoughts and feelings can ruin your reputation and alienate coworkers if your disclosure is poorly timed and not well-executed.
I remember a time in the neurosurgical ICU, when I cried after a patient of mine ended up brain-dead after his aneurysm blew. He was my age and crying was my response after the resuscitation effort failed. The neurosurgeon yelled at me for this display of emotion. What I did not realize was my emotions had the potential to trigger everyone else’s emotions.
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