Worried about being shy and nonassertive...

  1. I'm in my 2nd semester of an ASN program. I'm doing very well in my classes and in clinicals. There is a problem though. I'm very shy and always have been. I also have a hard time being assertive. And because of that I'm always constantly extremely nervous and feel like I'll never be good nurse. I desperately want to be a nurse and I will be. I just worry that I'm never going to feel comfortable because of my shyness and nonassertiveness. I worry about dealing with doctors because I know alot of times you have to be very assertive with them. Also with patients too it's important to be assertive. Was any of you like this in the beginning? Did you come out of it? It's hard to just "come out of it" though because I've been this way my entire life. We are about to begin mental health rotations and we just covered a chapter on assertiveness training which is something psych nurses do. I keep asking myself "how am I going to teach someone else to be assertive if I have no idea how to be assertive myself?" I did take in some of the techniques I learned in the chapter but actually using them is the hard part. I know I need to though. I guess I just need some advice and reassurance. Was any of you like me?
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   yayyo
    Yes, I know how you feel. I was shy in school and life, and I've recently graduated and am coming out of my shy state. One step at a time! First finish nursing school, then move on to the next task.
  4. by   stayingoutoftrouble
    The first time I had to approach a DR. in school clinical I had to give myself a little pep talk, "what do i do, what do I say" kept running through my head. It ended up being no big deal and now i am fine with it but it was difficult at first.
    Being assertive with patients is sometimes difficult too because I go into "customer service" mode where all you want to do is please them. Esp. as a student. I think my assertiveness skills will grow a ton at my first job. So, while I don't think I am 100% there, I feel a lot more comfortable. I was sort of forced to come out of my shell during my program.
    Wheter you do it intentionally or not, I think you will be less shy and become more assertive as you progress through your program.
  5. by   MelsaB
    I myself was extremely shy when I first started nursing school. I just graduated in December and am amazed at the transformation. My friends, family members and coworkers have noticed it as well. It was a slow process but the first step is realizing that assertiveness is something that you need to work on. You've already come to that conclusion so you are a step ahead.

    I was told repeatedly in my first two semesters that I needed to work on my confidence. (I don't know if that is an issue for you or not.) One of the things that I had to make a point to do was to throw myself into uncomfortable situations (speaking with a doctor for the first time, first time doing a procedure, dealing with a challenging patient or family, or tactfully questioning my preceptor when I felt that I was not being informed correctly.) Everytime you assert yourself it makes the next time easier. It is definitely a challenging process. I think the biggest help for me was to carefully consider the words I was going to use before I entered the conversation.

    I guess my biggest piece of advice is to challenge yourself to step forward. Sometimes we fear things just because they are unknown and as we actually get more involved in the thing we fear the most we realize that we had nothing to worry about.

    Hope this helps and good luck to you!
    Last edit by MelsaB on Feb 20, '07
  6. by   jjjoy
    What helps me is to think what's the worst that can happen? In most cases, it's being yelled at or someone rolling their eyes in exasperation. This WILL happen with doctors and nurse colleagues, though hopefully not too often.

    Now think about it, no matter how "dumb" a question is or how "incompetent" someone thinks you are, there is NO REASON for anyone to treat another disrespectfully. So anyone who treats you this way has THEIR OWN PROBLEM, even while they are pointing out what they think your problem is. This helps me avoid feeling that I somehow "deserve" such poor treatment because I "did something wrong." And it helps me not be so afraid of eliciting a negative response - thus making it easier to take the chance of being assertive.

    As others have said, get out there and give it try. Use the fact that you're "just" a student and "bother" everyone that you can. Notice that some people are rude and try to shut you down. Notice that some people are busy and distracted. Notice that some people are respectful and helpful.

    Every time that you "bother" someone, you are learning something and while they might not know it or appreciate it, they are helping you become a better nurse.
  7. by   Cheyenne RN,BSHS
    [font="comic sans ms"]i am by nature shy when it comes to talking about my own needs/wants/feelings, but when it is something that i really need for a patient .... and i know that i am right ... and speaking in the patient's behalf, then i get this momma bear attitude and get all protective over my patient and find that i lose that shyness for their sake.

    wish i could trade that same assertive nurse me for the wimp me when it comes to my own personal life. lol
  8. by   Galore
    My nature is also somewhat reserved and non-assertive although this has diminished the older I get. In my first career, we had a few days of training and were just thrown out there to deal with customers and learn as we went. I spent two years in that field and by the end of the first year I was already able to operate as the shift supervisor and go-to person for customer complaints when management was off or on vacation. You will problem learn to be assertive and less shy just as a means of survival and itt will get easier each time you are confronted with a situation. I also use the strategy of asking myself, "What's the worst that could happen?" as someone mentioned above.

    Also, you will probably find that when it comes to being assertive for your patients, it's easier than you think. When someone else's well-being is on the line, it's easier to be strong than when it's for yourself.
  9. by   jjjoy
    Quote from Fire Wolf
    but when it is something that I really need for a patient .... and I know that I am right ...
    Very true... a problem for a newbie though can be that one may not feel secure enough in their competence to "know that I'm right" and thus feel reticent to speak up. So then, I guess, one can draw on the desire to do the best for the patient by assertively asking when they help, regardless of whether the person you need to ask is a willing helper or not.
  10. by   RN BSN 2009
    take a speech class, that helped me quite a bit... it's easier to talk to one person than to try to influence an entire class
  11. by   cardiac.cure03
    I know where you're coming from... And I was TERRIFIED when it came time for psych clinicals. I just knew I'd feel so uncomfortable with the bulk of my assessment coming from talking with the pt. I worried that I wouldn't know what to say... Or how to get the info I needed from them. The thought of "therapeutic communication" just scared me.

    But I got through it. I WAS comfortable at first... But it helped me sooo much. Now I'm a new grad, and I feel I am so much more comfortable around pts than when I was a student. So hang in there, it'll eventually become integrated into who you are. Just takes time. And take full advantage of the psych rotation.

    Good luck to ya

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