Assertiveness being seen as aggressive

  1. Hello everyone. I have posted in the past about my "tone" of voice being taken wrong. It is continuing to happen with certain types of patients. The manager and I think that part of the issue is that my assertiveness is taken as aggressive or even condiscending. Can anyone give my suggestions on things I can do to prevent this. I am on the verge of getting fired. I really feel my manager is making way too much out of this. she is constantly watching over me and asking me co-workers about me. please help
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    About newrn05

    Joined: Dec '05; Posts: 72; Likes: 26

    14 Comments

  3. by   PeachPie
    Are you male or female?
  4. by   hopefullICUnurse77
    You could start out statements with the disclaimer, "I have something important to tell you and people always mistake my tone of voice as being aggressive or condescending, please do not take it in this manner...[fill in the rest]"
  5. by   Ruby Vee
    you don't say where you're from or where you work, but a lot of your problem may be cultural. i went from a fast-paced east coast hospital to the more laid back west coast and until my speech patterns slowed down enough to match the slower pace, i had the same complaints. make a special effort to keep your voice as low-pitched as you can -- a higher pitch can sound "shrill" to some. speak slowly and clearly, and try not to be as direct as you might like to be.

    (i know, i know. the person who cannot handle someone being direct with them is the one with the problem, but you're the one with the question!) i had (still have sometimes) complaints about me being "brusque" or "rude", when really it was just being direct. folks on the west coast wanted me to ask about how their day was going and how their kids were doing before i asked them to move out of the way so i could get to the patient to do cpr, etc. so take a minute to ask about people's lives before jumping into business any chance you get. (it's not always appropriate, but is always appreciated.) make a real effort not to raise your voice no matter what the provocation -- the minute you raise your voice, you're in the wrong.

    don't joke unless you're sure you know how the patient/co-worker is going to interpret the joke. a dry sense of humor has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years.

    and remember, in some unit cultures, it's better to be "nice" than right. i never did well in those cultures, but it's worth realizing it if that's the culture you're in.

    good luck.
  6. by   newrn05
    I live in Michigan. I have my whole life.
  7. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from newrn05
    i live in michigan. i have my whole life.
    well i don't know, then. do i get points for trying to help?
  8. by   marie mendoza
    That happens to me too. Sometimes I "hang back" socially in a new facility to see what's acceptable and how they relate to each other and the politics. I often get interpreted as "not interested" or "stuck up", "not a team player"... Then when I need to be assertive because I or we need to get results now (CPR) or notify doctor of change in condition and somebody wants me to do a less than trivial task, I get in trouble. Hello, priorities? Anyway, just be polite as possible with everyone and speak, as always, in the best PC-in-the-best-interest possible way. Does that make any sense?
  9. by   morte
    Quote from ruby vee
    well i don't know, then. do i get points for trying to help?
    yup, lol...
    op never answered on the gender question.....wonder too, if he/she has gone from city to rural?....also there is the chance that someone just wants them gone....
  10. by   diane227
    Well, I am female and I also tend to be a bit aggressive and I too come across sometimes as being a B. However, I was finally abel to get to the root of my problem when I was diagnosed with depression. I was also dealing with long term issues of growing up in a family full of alcoholics. I had a very sharp tongue and a very loud mouth ( along with a Texas accent). It got me into a lot of trouble. So I finally got some therapy and some medications and I have it under control for the most part now. But every now and then, someone can push a button and off I go. If a man does this it is being assertive and taking charge. If you are a female, you are being a B. Part of this is gender bias. I just do the best I can and I get in trouble now and then. But my manager is understanding. I have never had a run in with a patient but I have sure had a couple with staff. We are all just human. We can't be perfect 100% of the time.
  11. by   rnsrgr8t
    I used to get that ALL the time and, for me, it was the enviroment and culture I was in. I was in the south and (don't flame me here) at least with the people I worked with, they were that "fake" nice. They would turn on the southern charm when they wanted to and fool people and snarl behind your back. I am much too direct for that. I am always professional and courteous but not always chit chatty if things are busy (do you want me to get my work done or talk about the weather?) If there is a conflict between me and my coworkers (I mean simple misunderstandings) I would simply talk to the person about it. My coworkers complained that I was too intimidating. Every issue (no matter how small) was brought to my manager (who was as passive agressive as they come). Now I am a hard worker, very productive, the physicians loved me etc. I would always get the , " you are our best nurse, but....". It created a complex b/c I believed I really had an issue relating to people. I would always be fussed at b/c I was not smiling like I normally do, I was not chit chatty like normal. I was busy! I then moved up north and when I started working with the fantastic group of people I work with now, I remember warning my manager (in title only, she is my buddy and great coworker) that I tend to get not so nice when things get really busy, hectic etc. I remember talking about it after I had been there for about 2 years and she looked at me like I was crazy saying, "what are you talking about, I have never seen that in you". Keep in mind, I had not changed how I acted at all. The group I work with (MD's, nurses, NP's) we are all very hard working, intense, perfectionistic, direct. We can all get a little tense/short when the you know what is hitting the fan. Noone pays any attention to it. I have had plenty of times where we all can be a little be short with each other, but it is when all heck is breaking loose. We are not robots, cannot smile, with a soft tone constantly. At least I can't. As far as the patients, I have not had one say a word negative about my interaction with them in 5 years. I used to get weekly complaints at my old job. I have not changed how I am at all. So for me, it was a cultural thing and it was something at my old job that they fixated on until they gave me a complex. If you are mindful of how you can come across and make a conserted effort to be careful when things are stressful etc, that is all you can do. For some people, they don't like your personality (and it is their issue not yours) and you cannot have a personality transplant and change who you are fundamentally. The key for me is, OK I am feeling stressed, I take a deep breath, focus on my tone and think before I speak. Where I work now, never had a problem. Where I used to be, that was not good enough. I remember telling my manager at my old job that I did not know how to work any harder on relating to people. I was trying SO hard and it was not good enough. The bottom line, they just did not like me. Period. I think the key is to find a group of people where your personalities mesh. There are a lot of people at my hospital that wonder how I can work with the division I do. We are a little too intense for a lot of people. But, we take excellent care of our patients, the patients love us, we work our you know whats off, our # of new patients keep increasing when other divisions are going down and our revenue is the best in our division and we all stick up for each other and cover for each other. Give me that over a Stepford wives constant, fake smile/soft voice anyday!
  12. by   paulb999
    Hello. I am a middle-aged male nurse. I often find that if I ask another employee to do something in their job function (i.e. toilet a patient, answer a call light) that some are very quick to imply that I am using a condescending tone. My two cents is that some employees get very defensive when asked to do to their work, regardless of how professionally or tactfully they are asked.
  13. by   skyQ
    There is always a reason why people complain, I am pretty sure not only one pt had complaints on u, if not the manager would not pick on u all the time. Reflect on ur behaviours first. As we know the tone of voice, facial expression and gestures(pointing fingers) can be mistaken as aggresive instead of assertive. Also the words we say can be a different meanings as the person who receives the msg.
  14. by   skyQ
    It depends whether if the person who asks u to do something is "really" busy or just being lazy. If the person is busy I will help with no problems

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