Crap happens and you are pissed. The providers are breathing down your neck, someone in room 302 is shouting “Nurse!”, and your nursing colleague just decided to handoff his patients and go to lunch. Now, you have 10 patients to keep breathing. Oh, and the patient’s family in room 304 is threatening to sue.

How do you maintain your shiznit and keep it contained?

Well, breathe.

That’s the first step. Take a deep breath. Why? First of all it makes you stop. Taking a couple of deep breaths lowers your blood pressure by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. It helps to reduce anxiety and stress. Heck, it increases the supply of oxygen to your brain. Who doesn’t need that?

When you begin to stop that anxiety and stress cycle and you increase the oxygen to your brain you begin to think clearer. If you don’t breathe you could begin the nasty spiral into “bitchiness” or rude uncivil behavior.

Breathing helps you maintain perspective. It also allows you a space to be kind.

We mistake kindness and graciousness for weakness. To be strong we mistakenly believe that we must be loud and brash. Then we wonder why we are so unhappy at work because people are rude and uncivil.

Let’s clear up something. Loud and brash does not mean bold or courageous. Often loudness covers insecurity and fear. These qualities in communication are used as bullying techniques.

Courage is understanding that you are afraid and then going into a situation with kindness, compassion, and strength. Civility gives you the power to step back from all of the emotional baggage of anger  and fear. It doesn’t mean that you don’t feel strongly about something…say, patient safety. It just means that you are strong enough in your conviction to be polite in communicating your needs.

People hear this. For some reason we think  that we communicate in this special bubble and when we are rude to others and only the recipient of the rudeness is affected. This is SO not true.

Everyone around is affected by incivility. It negatively changes the way that people interact with you.  It actually prevents you from getting what you want or need because people are repelled by rudeness.

When you communicate with kindness and graciousness you can change the environment around you.

How do you start implementing this thing called kindness and graciousness?

Step two: Before you speak think about your emotional state? Whaat? Think about my emotional state? Um, yeah. You have control over how you feel. Don’t let yourself be fooled that others make you feel. It’s your brain. Don’t let it hijack you. Take control. If you just react according to how you feel in the moment your words will be harsh, as will your tone and body language.

You have control over how you act and react. No one makes you feel something. You have control over your emotions. It’s your brain. Take your power back.

If you are emotional then take a deep breath. Gain control. Think before you speak. Be kind. Do not use words that blame or that separate. Make sure that your body language matches the words that are coming out of your face.

Let’s say you can’t find kindness in that moment. Harness a moment when you have felt kindness. Tap into that moment and use it in the moment of stress. I call it “throwing the love”.

Harnessing a kindness moment: Close your eyes and think about someone or something that you love. Think about them or it until you feel that fuzziness in the middle of your chest. That is your moment. That softness is love. Harness it and use it later to “throw the love” in a moment of stress to increase kindness in communications.

If you are upset make a concerted effort to lower your voice. It will calm you. It will also draw others to you because they want to hear what you have to say and they will view you as calm.

Step three: Be gracious. Say the magic words; “please” and “thank you”. They are truly magic. Those adults in your childhood were right. These words build bonds. They acknowledge what others do and validate their contribution to your work.

Being kind and gracious increases civility. Even if you are the only one doing it. DO IT! At least, try it. It’ll change your environment, how you see it, and how others see you.





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