Communication issues in the workplace

  1. Hey everyone~ I am not a nurse (yet!) but I figured I'd post here because I'm sure that there's a few people that can either relate, or give me some advice.

    It's embarrassing to admit, but I wasn't the most socially-skilled child growing up. I was bullied relentlessly and went through a lot of stuff at home, so I ended up withdrawing from people and lost out on learning some key social skills.
    I found interaction awkward and tiresome, and I still do now. I've made steps over the years to socialize myself and learn how to interact with others- I've turned into someone that can relate well to most people, and I'm easy to get along with for the most part (I'm not perfect).

    ...but I'm hitting some snags.

    Three years ago I took a job at an amazing facility, and the staff were awesome for the most part. There was a raincloud there that didn't like me from the get-go and I couldn't figure out why; I'd asked her gently if there was anything I'd done etc. and explained that if there was an issue I'd love to work it out... but no dice. She said she didn't have a problem, but still treated me poorly. Other coworkers had mentioned that she'd voiced her displeasure with me during report one day, and she put it down to my supposed "fake energy." I'll admit, I am fast paced in the workplace but I have to be because I was often overloaded with patients due to staff callouts. I was not bouncy, or loud. I had a strong rapport with patients and 99% of the staff, and even under pressure I'd try to stay cheerful. My energy in the workplace was genuine - I loved my job and the people I was fortunate to meet. The colleague who had made the remark was a bit abrasive and some patients clashed with her, but I took her words to heart and tried to tone it down a bit.

    Fast forward to today and I work at my local community college as a tutor - our front desk gets a ton of foot traffic and the people that visit my desk often need help with things that don't pertain to tutoring. There's usually a few of us manning the front desk as it can get kinda busy, but if we've got no clients waiting, most staff are either looking stuff up on the computers, or killing time on their phones which is ok since our workplace is pretty relaxed. Sometimes, they get pretty engrossed in their stuff though, but it's not a big deal. Usually I'm studying at the front desk, but I stay aware of the desk - I'll greet people as they come to the desk instead of waiting for them to come to me and break my attention from my books. This sparks interaction between me and the student/client, and I thought this was an OK way of doing things until a workmate accused me of acting superior. Apparently, greeting people as they step to the desk, or offering to walk them to the dept. they need to reach (the college is a pain to navigate) means that I am acting superior to others. This workmate is a bit of a raincloud like the last one, but she's not malicious, just... has a strong personality? I don't know how to describe it. She's nice, but if she was to say "the sky is pink," there's no way you could convince her that it's blue. I'm not overly energetic, but I do act in a welcoming manner - it's my job to help people so I'd better at least act like I want to haha

    I don't believe I'm superior - on the contrary, I'm quite the opposite. I'm terrified of looking dumb, and I wish I had more confidence. I'm envious of people who always look so calm and collected on the outside and just seem to socialize with little trouble. At the same time I'm wondering that if I did have more confidence, then more people would accuse me of acting superior... I'm at a loss.

    I don't want to be one of those people who are like "Oh they'll get over it, it's their problem not mine." because surely if this keeps coming up then:
    a) I'm just really unfortunate, or
    b) I am the issue And I'm honestly not sure which one of these it is.

    I'm scared that this is going to come up after graduation, especially in a high stress environment. I've already signed up for some extra communication courses at my college so that I can develop my communication skills more as there's only so much I can effectively teach myself.

    So I guess now that I've written you all a novel, I want to ask if there are other nurses out there that have faced similar challenges, and if so, were you able to overcome them? Does it affect you now in the workplace?

    Thank you for your time everyone, stay awesome~
  2. Visit Wiggly Litchi profile page

    About Wiggly Litchi, CNA

    Joined: Dec '16; Posts: 485; Likes: 882

    18 Comments

  3. by   Emergent
    I think you sound like an introspective person who is intelligent and really neat! I enjoyed your narrative and could relate to it.
  4. by   Penelope_Pitstop
    Hi, Wiggly.

    I'm 33, and I'm an only child who had some home issues herself (no abuse, thankfully, but mental health/substance stuff) and also was much ahead of my peers academically - all of this led to social isolation. (I didn't know how to interact with kids, I'd always been around adults, for one).

    Anyway, I was made fun of all of the time, from kindergarten until about 10th grade. I tended to develop friendships with people who had no problem tearing me down. It was fun (NOT!)

    As an adult, I've been the "department joke" at more than one job. I was also diagnosed with atypical depression which features a marked response to interpersonal rejection. So, I very very much get where you are.

    I still, to this day, have a fear of making others "mad" at me, or I worry about people liking me. If someone treats me badly, instead of projecting my reaction towards that person, I, in turn, crank up the energy to elicit a positive response.

    I don't think you can ever one hundred percent rid yourself of certain aspects of your psyche, especially those that have been present since childhood; however, there are coping measures. Very recently I began to care less about what others thought. I think, for me (not at all suggesting that this is for you) having an encouraging therapist and (very reluctantly) getting back on SSRIs helped me a ton.

    Back to the therapy - one of my "homework" assignments was keeping a journal of positive things I did every day and praising myself. It sounds very silly, especially to people like you and me, but it worked, and no one ever had to read it. If you do affirm your good qualities regularly, you will care less what others think.
  5. by   Wiggly Litchi
    Thank you so much! This is one reason I love this forum - I know that if I ask an honest question, I'm not going to face ridicule or be told to just "suck it up"...unless I really do need to just suck it up haha

    @Emergent - I always love your posts, you sound pretty rad too!

    @Penelope_Pitstop - I feel you on the whole being around adults thing! Adults were always just very honest and upfront; interacting with kids terrified me as I could never tell if they were genuine or not.

    I'm huge on the "Kill 'em with kindness" thing too- I'll never resort to backbiting or gossiping as it just wastes energy.
    It's pretty neat that you mentioned the therapist and SSRI's - I'm pretty sure I have depression, but I've never been diagnosed so I can't say for certainty. I think I'd benefit greatly from a therapist and I'm fortunate that my new college offers free counseling and referrals. I really should make use of those!

    The journal does sound like an amazing idea though - it's very easy to get swamped and hang relentlessly on the "bad thing someone said 3 years ago" (as my post proves haha), so I think a little positive reminder every now and again is a good thing. I will have to try it!

    Thank you for your warmth guys <3 I appreciate your input so much!
  6. by   Davey Do
    Quote from Wiggly Litchi
    I want to ask if there are other nurses out there that have faced similar challenges, and if so, were you able to overcome them? Does it affect you now in the workplace?
    Wayne Dyer said something like, "If you can please 50% of the people you deal with, you are doing a good job".

    There will always be chronic malcontents and flies in the ointment. We can't allow them to be the judges of our worth.

    We only have to sleep with ourselves, so our opinion of ourselves holds the most water. We can use others' opinions of who we are to titrate our behavior, but others' opinions should not be more important than ours.

    The very best to you, Wiggly Litchi!
  7. by   Wiggly Litchi
    Quote from Davey Do
    The very best to you, Wiggly Litchi!
    And to you Davey, thank you!!
  8. by   VivaLasViejas
    You remind me quite a bit of me, especially when I was young. I was that kid who was about 15 degrees off "cool" and never could figure out just what it was about me that made some people look at me strangely or treat me unkindly. Even as an adult, I developed a reputation as being eccentric and loud, and I was considered fun to be around for a little while, then people would get tired of me. I didn't know why until relatively late in life when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and by that time it was too late for me to salvage my career. Now that I've gotten all that figured out, I enjoy good relationships and have many, many friends, and while I'm now retired (I'm actually on Social Security Disability), I've had lots of time to reflect on the things that went wrong and grow the rest of the way up.

    What does all of this mean to you? It means that some of us are naturally a little awkward socially and we have to develop a thicker skin than most people. It's all too easy to be hurt when people don't accept us. The truth is, the vast majority of folks are far more preoccupied with themselves and their own lives than they are with us. It may not feel like it when they say or do things that hurt our feelings, but they generally don't sit around thinking up ways to ruin our day. Yes, if you see a pattern emerging where you're being treated in a certain way by more than one or two people, you should probably evaluate the situation to see where you might be doing something that turns them off, then learn to modify your behavior to make you fit in a little better. But honestly, if it's only one person giving you the stink-eye when you do something like greet someone before they come to your desk, I wouldn't change a thing---you are merely doing your job the way it ought to be done. Know that, and be confident in it.

    And now to conclude MY novel, I will say that I think you're a very insightful and thoughtful human being who will do well in your future endeavors. It's OK to be a bit unusual. It's OK to be different. It's not necessarily pathological, although if you feel you might need a professional's advice, by all means seek it. Be happy...be well.
  9. by   Wiggly Litchi
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    *awesome novel*
    VivaLasViejas, your story is very touching! Thank you for sharing it with me, and thank you for your words of kindness!

    I always feel a little 'off' socially because I've never known what 'right' is - I wish I could put my finger on it though! haha
    I will definitely have to seek some outside help in the near future though; if I get a dx for something, or if I'm just determined to be awkward, I will be happy because then I'll be one step closer to figuring out why I am the way I am, or at least learning some rad skills to cope with my awkwardness lol

    Thank you so much for your time! Have an awesome weekend!
  10. by   TriciaJ
    It's just plain good customer service to greet people and offer to help. Your coworker who called you superior: that's HER inferiority speaking. She could have remedied it by developing a work ethic but she chose to try to pull you down instead. One day you'll have learned to laugh at people like that (at least on the inside). Meanwhile, you don't need to defend yourself against every ridiculous accusation.

    You sound like a decent and solid person. Don't let crappy people tell you how to be.
  11. by   Wiggly Litchi
    Thank you TriciaJ, I appreciate your kindness!
    One day I will be strong enough not to care, hopefully haha #lifegoals
  12. by   canoehead
    How to approach it with your coworker when she brings it up...you are just doing the best job you can. You do well with the greeting part of the job, and she does well with _____. the fact that she does better with that part of the job doesn't mean shes acting superior, its just different people have different talents. that's teamwork.
  13. by   JKL33
    Quote from Wiggly Litchi
    Other coworkers had mentioned that she'd voiced her displeasure with me during report one day, and she put it down to my supposed "fake energy." I'll admit, I am fast paced in the workplace but I have to be because I was often overloaded with patients due to staff callouts. I was not bouncy, or loud. I had a strong rapport with patients and 99% of the staff, and even under pressure I'd try to stay cheerful. My energy in the workplace was genuine - I loved my job and the people I was fortunate to meet.
    Quote from Wiggly Litchi
    Usually I'm studying at the front desk, but I stay aware of the desk - I'll greet people as they come to the desk instead of waiting for them to come to me and break my attention from my books. This sparks interaction between me and the student/client, and I thought this was an OK way of doing things until a workmate accused me of acting superior.
    Agree w/ Tricia. You have met two individuals who choose to try to make others feel lesser rather than making much effort themselves to do work of which they can be proud.

    Honestly. Leave them to it. They are both essentially complaining about how you interact with clientele - which from your description is to greet them and/or interact with them warmly and professionally.

    Bad things happen when we try too hard to change ourselves to gain the approval of unhappy people.
  14. by   NurseBlaq
    Quote from Davey Do
    There will always be chronic malcontents and flies in the ointment.
    Hilarious!

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