I recently had an informal meeting with my manager at work and the topic was about my attitude towards work and colleagues…
It was not good.
To give you a background of what I do for a living, I am an A&E (Accident & Emergency) Junior Sister. I have only been promoted to that role since the start of this year, and I have about a year and a half experience as an A&E Staff Nurse. Prior to that, I have been an Operating Room Scrub Nurse for about 4 years.
I am proud of my career, diverse experience, and specialist skills. I view myself as a hard working, helpful, friendly, and approachable person… in and out of work.
But my recent conversation with my manager says otherwise.
She said that there were around 10 people who reported me and one even went straight to our hospital’s director of nursing. Therefore, she could no longer ignore these reports and had to speak to me.
I was very hurt upon hearing this from her because as I said, I do not see myself like that.
This meeting and the reports has given me some emotional stress. I could not concentrate well on work and I could not sleep when I got home after work.
I was calm during the meeting and asked questions and situations that could have led to these reports to try and explain myself but my manager did not have the specifics and is talking in general, and does not want to break the confidence of the people who reported; so I end up mostly being frustrated as I felt like my side was not being heard.
My initial solution was to hate everyone and withdraw from any socialisation at work.
But I know that will not do me any good, I will just give myself more emotional stress and it will just give me more problems at work if I become bitter about what happened.
So, like what everyone does when they need more information…
I asked Google.
How to deal with Negative Feedback
• Pause first; Don’t react. Distance your emotional self. Don’t take it personally. Assume good intentions.
• Listen carefully and understand what the concerns are.
• Assess if the feedback is true.
• Don’t try to prove someone is wrong.
• Do not get defensive and start making excuses.
• Respond calmly and respectfully.
• Ask questions to deconstruct the feedback.
• Apologise if needed and thank the person giving feed back.
• Learn from the feedback.
• Manage stress. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Our meeting and conversation went something like this:
(The following accounts are not all exactly recorded word by word and are written as far as I can remember with some summarisations)
I’m Lazy and I sit down a lot
If my colleagues think I am lazy because they see me sitting down a lot, I am most probably sitting down because I am either writing my documentation, requesting blood samples, or I’m simply just tired and having a rest.
“Being tired is not a reason to sit down, you are a young woman in your early thirties; I expect you to be wizzing around the department like any other young staff. If not, then you are not for this job.”
I felt offended and I know what she said is not right but I kept quiet because I might start talking in a tone that is disrespectful. I have the right to rest when I’m tired, and being tired is not equivalent to being lazy. In my own assessment, I feel that I am working hard and doing my best. But like what the song says, sometimes your best isn’t good enough.
I guess I just need to work harder and not sit down at all. Or maybe only sit down when everyone else is.
A “Great” Delegator
I am guilty with delegating tasks to nurse assistants and sometimes other nurse colleagues and student nurses, but I have never delegated tasks when I am not busy doing something else already. I never sit doing nothing and then ask someone else to do what I’m supposed to be doing. I admit that I may be slow sometimes but I do not do that intentionally just to get less work. I sometimes slowdown in doing my work so that I could deliver good quality work.
“This is not a formal meeting, and I really do not need much explanation from you because it’s going to be a “he said, she said” sort of thing and we are not here to judge because this is an informal meeting. So I think a good thing to do whenever you are working is to think “Am I working less than my colleagues? Am I sitting down more than my colleagues” if not, then there is no problem.”
When she said that, I felt that I was being dealt with unfairly; because my side of the story did not seem important to her. Also, the questioning she gave me to use seems like I should be counting the work that I, and my other colleagues have done. Personally, I don’t think that’s how we should work. We are a team, we should not be counting work, we should try and help each other as much as we can. I have never forced anyone to do stuff for me, I always politely ask and I always ask if they are happy to do it.
I need to do more prioritisation of tasks rather than delegation because I think that I am so conscious of time targets and constraints, I try to do everything at once, but obviously that is not possible; therefore I delegate a lot of what I cannot do to my other colleagues. So from now, I won’t ask anyone to do anything unless they offer and ask me if I need anything to be done.
Rude/Bad treatment towards Nurse Assistants and Students
(rude/bad treatment was not the word she used but, I cannot remember but it felt like it was the same kind of word, it was negative)
Never have I intentionally been rude or gave bad treatment to any of my colleagues whether they may be students, nurse assistants, porters, cleaners, receptionists, or doctors. I treat everyone equally and with respect; in fact, I have relatives and close friends outside of work who are nursing students, nurse assistants, porters, receptionists, and cleaners. I admit that I can be passive aggressive at times but that’s one of the ways I cope with confrontation and I am trying to change that.
“Maybe it could just be your demeanour. Just be more sensitive about your actions.”
I remembered what my husband said, that I am the type of person that either you love or you hate. I mean, if you don’t like me, you don’t have to. We just need to do what we are paid for at work, we are not paid to make friends, that’s just a bonus if you do make friends.
Be sensitive with my actions, non-reactions, body language, and how I communicate.
I sleep out of my break times during night shifts
I only had ONE nap outside my break time because it was my first night shift after a series of day shifts and I could not handle the heaviness of my eyes and was having a headache, so I asked my colleague if they could cover me for only 10-15 mins so I can have a shut eye. My only mistake is that I did not tell or ask the nurse in charge, and when someone saw me in the staff room, they reported me that I was having a “third break”. The nurse in charge spoke to me afterwards and I explained to her and apologised, then it never happened again.
My manager did not say anything.
She accepted my explanation. This is just to prove that allegations towards me may not be true or lack information and would need my side of the story to justify and clear my reputation.
I think I did most of what Google was advising me.
I did get defensive in a sense that I was trying to explain myself, but I was not making excuses.
I thanked my manager at the end of our meeting, I did not apologise to her because she is only a messenger of reports and I know I have personally not caused her any grief at work on or before our meeting. However, I would like to apologise to the people who felt that I have been rude or treated them badly, because I know I would not have meant it or have done it intentionally. But unfortunately, as she said in the meeting, she does not want to break the confidence of the people who reported me.
Receiving negative feedback is hard to digest and has taken up a lot of me for the past couple of days. My main stress reliever is my husband, he always listens to me and take my side no matter what.
But sometimes talking to him is not enough because I express myself better through writing, and my emotional and mental burdens get relived if I express them all properly.
Therefore, this post is one of my stress relievers.
I wouldn’t expect anyone to read the whole of this post but if you did, I hope this could also help you on dealing with negative feedback or criticisms.
If you have any advice or your own practice on how to deal with negative feedback and managing stress, I would love to hear them.