I was reminded recently of a lesson I learned while working as an RN in the Newborn Nursery.
I was working part time while studying towards my degree.
One evening I was angry with the aides working with me. They were not doing what they were supposed to do. They had not been reporting to me as they should, when babies were cold. This had happened before and I did not want them to continue to shirk their duty. So I called an ‘all hands meeting’ for when the babies were asleep and fed.
I was brooding as I awaited the meeting time. One young aide walked by the nurses’ station, got my attention and then just said, “Ask a question.” She continued on her way without another word.
Ask a question. Ask a question. What did she mean? What was I supposed to ask?
As soon as everyone gathered, I said, “I’ve noticed that no one is reporting to me when a baby in their nursery has a low temperature. Why not?” Heads dropped around the circle and then one bold soul said, “If we tell the nurse who is here when you aren’t, she gets angry with us and tells us to take care of it on our own.” This opened lots of enlightening discussion. I was able to end by saying, “I want to know everything you know about any baby in your nursery. I will help you and I’ll alert the doctor when it is important for him to know.” The whole atmosphere in the nursery changed.
I had made an assumption. I was ready to make an accusation. But by stating the problem and then asking an open-ended question, the charged atmosphere was calmed. The aides felt safe enough to voice their dilemma and a real solution was found.
This simple word of wisdom has been helpful to me throughout my life. When I begin to feel agitated or frustrated, all kinds of criticisms jump to mind. I can begin to feel self-righteous or vindictive. By taking a little time to think about a way to ask a question instead of blurting out my charge against them, resolution is much more possible.
Just for the record, children rarely know ‘why’ they do anything. But try asking them other open ended questions like, “What did you expect to happen when you did. . .?” or “Can you think of a safer way to do that?” Sometimes there is only one thing to say then, “Don’t do it again.”
Another time I find myself asking a question is when a friend or acquaintance looks sad or pre-occupied. I sometimes just ask, “Do you want to talk about it?” I may have no idea what “it” is, but they could have been wanting to process their thoughts out loud and not known who would listen without judging them.
Take a moment to consider:
Is there a situation in your life could be helped by asking a question? What question would you like to ask? You might be very surprised by the answer you receive.