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15 Things Only Nurses Would Understand

15 Things Only Nurses Would Understand

Nurses have a highly specialized role in society. They play an integral role in the medical field. It is undebatable that they don’t get enough credit for all the hard work that they do. Here are 15 things that only nurses will understand.

1. Life is fragile.

It is inevitable that we must all die. Yet as often as people pass away, most of us will only experience this tragedy a few isolated times in our lives. Nurses on the other hand deal with death and illness on a daily basis and understand all too well just how fragile life can be.
They get to hear the stories of people who were fine one day and then found themselves laying sick or dead in a hospital bed the next. Being a nurse is rewarding in many aspects, one of which is the daily reminder to say “I love you” as often as you can to the ones you hold dear to your heart.

2. There is power in showing gratitude.

The most amazing feeling any nurse will ever experience is when a former patient or survivor comes back into the unit to say thank you. When you are extremely sick, you will need a lot of care and patience. Chances are your loved ones will not have the time so you will have to rely on the kindness and compassion of nurses.

The best nurses are the ones who go above and beyond to provide the best care even to the most difficult patients. It makes the job all the more rewarding when a patient comes back after getting better to simply say thank you. This heartwarming gesture is a powerful display of gratitude and is one that nurses understand and appreciate all too well.

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3. Health is wealth.

With the majority of people coming sick to hospitals to treat food related illnesses, nurses understand all too well the importance of good health. It is not uncommon for nurses and doctors today to preach preventative treatment to patients by stressing the importance of proper nutrition and exercise. Like the old sayings, “ An apple a day, keeps the doctor away” and “Let food be thy medicine.”

4. The importance of listening.

An important aspect of being a nurse is the ability to listen and show empathy. To provide the best care, you must be able to put yourself in the patient’s shoes and feel like they do. While nurses aren’t therapists, they must be able to listen like one. Sometimes the nurse may be the only one around when a loved one passes away, which makes them a crucial asset in delivering any last words or wishes.

5. The many uses for Vicks® VapoRub™.

Vicks® VapoRub™ is to a nurse, what duct tape is to a handyman. Whether it’s putting it in a face mask to relive bad smells in the hospital or rubbing it on sore feet to relieve the pain of being on your feet for long hours, the ointment has many uses that only nurses will know about.

6. Family members will ask you to diagnose them.

When you are a nurse, you probably have family members and friends always wanting to diagnose them.

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7. Nudity is no big deal.

To a nurse, seeing people naked is just part of the day’s job. A nurse learns to see the human body from a clinical perspective. There is only so many times you can give people sponge baths and catheters before you become immune to the novelty of seeing other people’s nakedness.

8. The importance of comfortable foot ware.

Nurses work some of the longest shifts of any industry. They move at top speed for hours at a time. When a patient’s life hangs in the balance, the last thing a nurse needs to worry about is the throbbing ache and pain in her feet. Nurses understand all too well the importance of comfortable and proper foot ware.

9. Caffeine is its own food group.

Nurses rarely find the time to slow down to a hearty meal. They learn to keep the body moving through high caffeinated drinks like coffee and energy drinks, always sipping on the go. Since most nurses–especially those who work in the E.R–don’t have the luxury of allocated breaks and lunches, they more than any other profession understand the importance of caffeine.

10. The joy of seeing a patient recover.

Every job has its rewards and for a nurse it’s seeing people leave the hospital healed. Knowing that you were a key part of the healing process is what makes the long days or nights so worth it.

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11. Seeing people for who they are.

When you see someone with a disease, it’s easy to see them as just their disease–cancer, AIDS, heart problems etc. However, a nurse has to look past the ailment to see the person.

12. There is power in positive thinking.

A nurse knows from first-hand experience the power of the mind. A patient with a positive mindset can often overcome the impossible. In the course of their carriers, nurses will witness personally the awesome power of the human will to live, as well as the mind’s ability to heal the body.

13. The value of insurance.

Healthcare is not cheap. Nurses see and have to treat too many people without insurance on a daily basis. They know too well the importance of keeping your loved ones medically insured.

14. There is no avoiding bodily fluids.

Most people have a definite “gross” factor when coming into contact with other people’s bodily fluids. A nurse will come in contact with pee, stool, blood, snot, saliva, vomit, and other “gross” fluids to varying degrees on a daily basis. Nurses understand that there is no avoiding bodily fluids.

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15. Know when to let go.

Family members of patients want nurses to do everything they can to keep their loved ones alive. While this is the goal, there are certain cases where there is nothing more you can do. Nurses know all too well that, sometimes, there is nothing more you can do and as such must help the patient and their families let go.

Featured photo credit: Nurse with crying baby via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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