The recent responses by nurses (both here an in other forums) to the issues of workplace bullying and the general state of our interpersonal relationships at work has been pretty distressing.
There is obviously a real problem here that still needs a lot of sorting out.
I have already looked at some strategies for managing your professional response should by become a victim of bullying behaviours or want to help out someone who is.
But I think we need to do more to preemptively improve the qualities of our interpersonal relationships. So one thing I am going to suggest is that we hug each other more.
No… I am dead serious.
There is quite a bit of research now that has demonstrated that hugging can lower our stress levels, increase our immune response, improve trust and attenuate feelings of being supported.
“…new research out of Carnegie Mellon indicates that feeling connected to others, especially through physical touch, protects us from stress-induced sickness. This research adds to a large amount of evidence for the positive influence of social support on health.
Social support can broadly be defined as the perception of meaningful relationships that serve as a psychological resource during tough times. More specifically, this means emotional support, such as expressions of compassion, and may include access to information or other assistance. (Killam 2015)”
So yes, I am suggesting that this is a serious and worthwhile strategy to consider trying out in your own workplace. Talk about it with other nurses and see what they think.
Now I am not generally a huggy person myself. But in the spirit of acknowledging the imperative of improving our workplace environments and increasing intercollegiate relationship & mutual support, I will hereby commit to working towards mastery in the HUG Nurse competency (see below).
Of course hugging your colleagues be they other nurses, doctors, orderlies or others is NOT always appropriate.
There may also be cultural or personal sensitivities that preclude hugging some people and these should always be respected. Hugging must ALWAYS be a mutually agreed activity.
But on our line of work there are plenty of times and plenty of people where I think hugging is absolutely appropriate, and I suspect much needed.
HUG NURSE competency criteria.
- I will advocate an immediate assertive response, to the best of my ability, whenever bullying is experienced or witnessed in the workplace.
- I will do my best to offer my professional, compassionate, support to colleagues PRN. This may be through physical assistance or sharing knowledge & skills.
- I will engage in respectful physical contact with my colleagues in the form of HUGS whenever appropriate and mutually consented.
- I will recognise that we are all dealing with our own unique and individual difficulties most (if not all) shifts, and I will look to support others in bringing their best self to the bedside (or other work environment).
- I will seek support from other HUG endorsed nurses whenever I am in need.
If you are able to commit to fulfilling, or working towards competency in the above criteria I hereby certify you a HUG endorsed NURSE.
You can make it super official by acknowledging your commitment in the comment section below.
Now step on up for a hug.
- Cohen, Sheldon, Denise Janicki-Deverts, Ronald B. Turner, and William J. Doyle. “Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness.” Psychological Science 26, no. 2 (2015): 135–47. doi:10.1177/0956797614559284.
- “Hugs Help Protect Against Stress and Infection, Say Carnegie Mellon Researchers-CMU News – Carnegie Mellon University.” Hugs Help Protect Against Stress and Infection, Say Carnegie Mellon Researchers-CMU News – Carnegie Mellon University. Accessed February 02, 2017. https://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2014/december/december17_hugsprotect.html.
- Killam, Kasley. “A Hug a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.” Scientific American. March 17, 2015. Accessed February 02, 2017. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-hug-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away/.