Nurses: Have you ever had to show compassion to someone who didn't want it?

  1. If so, how did you handle the situation?
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    Joined: Jun '12; Posts: 66; Likes: 7


  3. by   RNsRWe
    I think we need more information.

    If the patient didn't want a showing of compassion.....why did you feel you had to give it?

    What do you mean?
  4. by   elkpark
    Not sure what you mean by "had to show compassion" -- showing compassion is a basic element of my nursing practice which I extend to all my clients; whether or not they "want" the compassion is not an issue.

    Can you clarify what you're asking?
  5. by   decembergrad2011
    This sounds like a homework question. If not, I really don't understand it.
  6. by   dudette10
    If another person is going through something that calls for compassion--but they "reject" the compassion--it's most likely the delivery of it that is being rejected.

    An example: A friend of mine (let's call her Kathy) was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and I'm fortunate to be in her inner circle. We (her inner circle) know her well and she's been very direct with us when she was first diagnosed. We now know it's important for us as a group to have as much normalcy as possible and to let her do the talking if she wants to. Many, many times, she chooses not to talk about her cancer for multiple get-togethers in a row. That's just her. That's what she wants, and we show compassion for her by NOT talking about it until she opens the way to the conversation.

    Kathy told us a story recently about an acquaintance of hers who was very, very insistent about getting her to talk to a complete stranger (a friend of the acquaintance) who also has breast cancer. "Can I give her your number?" the acquaintance asked. No, Kathy said, and she gently explained that she gets comfort from her friends who knew her prior to the diagnosis, and she would be very uncomfortable with starting off a relationship with someone just because they both had cancer. A couple weeks later, the acquaintance asked again, and Kathy again said no. The acquaintance ended up putting the phone number of her friend in her mailbox, then asked about a week later if Kathy had called the other woman. No.

    While it may seem like Kathy was "rejecting compassion," I would argue that the acquaintance was lacking compassion by insisting on a type of coping mechanism which Kathy clearly did not want to use. It might be a good way of dealing with cancer for many people, but it just isn't the way Kathy is dealing with it. And that's ok! Unfortunately, the acquaintance just didn't get it.
  7. by   sharpeimom
    I don't understand the question either. My basic personality style is smart alecky but I am also a compassionate, caring,
    loving person. I based how I responded to a patient on their demeanor, diagnosis, age, etc.

    You can certainly be compassionate and show compassion and empathy without being saccharin and drippy.
  8. by   nursingstudent2458
    Sorry for the confusion everyone. I guess it's basically how dudette10 put it: "If another person is going through something that calls for compassion--but they "reject" the compassion--it's most likely the delivery of it that is being rejected." I was just curious to know if anyone had to deal with this kind of thing as a nurse. For example, say you were giving a patient something that would really help him/her, but that patient rejects the kindness and refuses.

    And no, it is not a homework question...
  9. by   Altra
    People refuse meds/tests/treatments all the time for myriad reasons. You can re-educate on the rationale why it's being ordered, but competent adults are free to refuse. I don't interpret that as a rejection of "compassion".
  10. by   sunnybabe
    Well, whenever I work sometimes my compassion is received with rudeness. However, I just remember that the patient may be in pain(for example, sickle cell patients tend to be in a lot of pain) or maybe they're in a bad mood. After all, they are in the hospital hurting emotionally or physically. Some patients don't want to be bothered. It's ok because they have the right to refuse medication, service, and my compassion.

    Also, delivery is important. You don't want to come off as insensitive or fake in your compassion. Sometimes, you just can't help what you do. I was told by a patient that I talked to him like a child because my voice was soft.
  11. by   mofomeat
    I guess something else to be said about the 'delivery' of compassion... Sometimes if you seem like you are trying 'too hard' to help someone who doesn't want it, it can make them very uncomfortable. Queue labels like "creepy" or "pushy" or such, no matter how well-intentioned you may be.
    Last edit by mofomeat on Aug 14, '12
  12. by   whichone'spink
    I don't like it when nurses call me sweety or honey, which they also do with older adults as well. It's a way of showing compassion, but it's so damn condescending that it rubs people the wrong way.
  13. by   FlyingScot
    I have more trouble being compassionate to someone who doesn't deserve compassion. But somehow I do it.
  14. by   Meriwhen
    Happens sometimes...I don't let it throw me. If they persist, I tell them that they don't have to like me and I'm fine with that, but while they're still my patient, I care about how they feel and will still give them the best care I can. Of course, said delivery of compassion and concern will be tweaked, but the quality of care will never decrease.