An antidote to backstabbing
Creating a kinder work atmosphere took more than individual effort
I work in a community hospital as an ICU nurse, and my nursing team and the patients we treat come from various backgrounds. At one point there was much backstabbing among us, and morale was low among nurses. Although some tried to be good team players, we were far from working as a team.
So at a meeting of the employee satisfaction committee, I thought I could propose a way to bring a little more kindness among us all. I talked about the concept of the Gospel-based Art of Loving, which encourages people to take the initiative in showing kindness, loving everyone, and loving our enemies. I described the small Cube of Love with these points as a tool to put them into practice. Everyone was enthusiastic about the idea, and my director was very supportive.
We began rolling the Cube each day and tried to live the phrase that came up. It was very clear to me that I had to live out the phrases first of all. So I started sending emails of how my coworkers and I were putting the points into practice.
One of our clerks shared that one morning the phrase was “love others as yourself.” The phone was ringing at the nurses’ station, and he was busy with other tasks. But then he thought what it would be like if he were the person calling: he would like for someone to pick up the phone right away. So he stopped what he was doing and answered the phone.
“Being the first to love” is a favorite phrase among everyone. These can be small acts, for example, getting a specimen container for another nurse before being asked, then unexpectedly the other person offering to help turn over a bed-ridden patient.
Our relationships with patients and their families have really deepened. When we are busy, it can be very challenging to spend time and talk with patients or their family members.
I had a very anxious patient family member who had so many questions, and somehow the answers I gave did not convince him. I was getting annoyed and started thinking of the many other things I needed to do. Then I was reminded that I wanted to be kind … I understood I had to call a nurse practitioner to the bedside for some help. She came and repeated pretty much what I had said, but this time the family member was more convinced. When I was assigned to another ICU, I continued to visit the patient and family, and they were so appreciative.
These acts of kindness and the sharing of experiences have helped increase teamwork tremendously, and now staff members send emails to all of us when they wish to express their thanks to those who helped them out in an emergency situation, or when a patient had turned for the worse and others came to offer more staff support.
In these emails I sense how our love for one another has grown. People are really taking the initiative now. And when difficulties arise, we mention the Cube of Love to remind ourselves how to live them with more kindness.

Augie Rillera, Houston, Texas

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