hi, dorselm! well, i was kind of like you, and kind of not like you. i came from a home where my mother was a very strict disciplinarian. we towed the line or got "the belt". consequently, around others i didn't know i was very quiet and anyone who was an authority figure could just walk all over me. with my younger brothers or sisters, however, lookout! once i got a little authority and confidence myself i became a lot like my mother, something i learned very quickly wasn't going to be tolerated in any workplace. it was a very rude awakening and a long road of education for me. i had to take a class in communication skills as part of the required curriculum for my bsn when i went back to school. we were taught principles of assertiveness in the class as well as had a weekly lab where we acted out scenarios and practiced these skills on each other. i also over the course of my career have taken several classes in how to handle difficult people, which is where assertiveness skills are often used. the best practice i got, however, was working in nursing homes and having to deal with all kinds of problems with nursing assistants, now called cnas. i had to deal with any number of them that were insubordinate, mouthy, nasty, outright bold and any number of bad behaviors that had to be confronted and discipline applied. after being walked all over a couple of times i started looking back through all the written materials i had accumulated on the subject over the years. i took one problem person at a time and practiced in my mind the assertive phrase i would say to them the next time they gave me grief--and they usually did. the first time i confronted someone, it was hard. my heart rate probably jumped to 150. i'm sure my words didn't sound real clear--at least not to me. but, the person responded the way all my written materials said they would. i just continued doing this. after awhile it gets easier because you don't get the emotional reaction within yourself that you did the first time. that emotional response you get at first is a real killer. but, like any other skill, the more you practice and get mastery over it, the better you get at it. now, i can concentrate a lot more on my facial expressions and the tone of my voice because i know the words that i need to say to someone when confronting them. it also helps when you develop more confidence in your other nursing skills and knowledge. nothing deflates your ego faster than someone who can cut you to the heart by taking an unfair stab at you by bringing up any lack of knowledge or experience that you might have. dirty pool on their part, but it works.
what i'm telling you is that it is a learned skill. like any learned skill it takes practice. you'll mess up a few times when you first attempt it. the important thing, however, is that you get back up and do it again and again until you get it right. what makes this skill so difficult is that there is emotional involvement. after all, you don't want to hurt the other person any more than you have to. but, you know what i've learned over the years? those who you often need to confront about their behavior usually don't give a horse's patoot about your feelings to begin with. now, that doesn't mean you have carte blanche to dig in and turn the screws on them, but just keep that in mind as you contemplate making that first assertive remark to them in as respectful a tone of voice as you can make it. they wouldn't have been tromping all over you in the first place if they cared about your feelings, would they?
i've never had any other nurses trying to push off work on me that i can remember. i'd be the first one saying, "you're not splitting the work fairly!" have you been reading some of the forums where people are discussing this? i've had nurses who's patient's lights were always going off or their iv pumps alarming and they were no where to be found. that drove me nuts because i'd be running around answering lights and fixing iv pump problems because i couldn't stand the noise. what really irked me about that is that it wasn't going on with my patients so i couldn't go off somewhere and leave my patients problems for them to deal with!