Can’t we all just get along?

Are there days on the unit when you have a disagreement with someone and just want to settle a conflict like this?


Up to this day, conflict resolution and communicating effectively with others continues to be challenging. Not just for me, but for many nurses. In fact, for basically everyone! I hear it time and time again when people have a disagreement, though do not wish to talk about it. This leads to impaired work relationships, people taking sides, a decreased work morale, and — most importantly — impaired patient care.

I’m an introvert, for one thing. I enjoy social situations, but they tire me out! I need time to recharge on my own, then I am ready to engage with others again. However, because of this introverted nature of mine, I found it extremely difficult (for a very long time) to tell people how I truly felt. For me to have a normal social interaction with someone is already draining. But for me to confront someone head on about a conflict would be the most taxing, stressful situation I could face and would leave me anxious, distressed, and paralyzed for the remainder of the shift.

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How I feel when confronting a conflict.

I read books and listened to podcasts about communication, but the podcast that I found the most helpful was this amazing podcast called Happier with Gretchen Rubin!

I am so grateful I stumbled upon this podcast one day because she created a framework that helped to change the way I perceive others. Instead of analyzing others’ personality types and communication styles (which is helpful but a tad too complex for work-related and social purposes), Gretchen emphasizes the idea of looking at “how people tend to respond to expectations.”

Before I go into more detail about this, I invite you to take this brief quiz made by Gretchen:

So, did you find out what your “tendency” is?

After I learned my result, I discovered how shockingly accurate it was! And it’s a very simple framework. It basically depends on how you meet expectations (external and internal).

  • External expectations are expectations from things other than yourself (family expectations, work deadlines, etc.)
  • Internal expectations are expectations that come from you personally (e.g. New Year’s resolution, weight loss goal, etc.)
The Four Tendencies are characterized by how one meets his or her external and internal expectations.

In a nutshell, Gretchen explains the four different personality categories as such:

  1. Upholders – These individuals are motivated! They want to meet both external and internal expectations
  2. Questioners – This is me! We question everything and and thus struggle with meeting external expectations unless we wholly agree with it (thus turning an external expectation into an inner expectation)
  3. Obligers – These individuals are great at meeting external expectations (very productive!), but have difficulty meeting expectations that they set for themselves.
  4. Rebels – These individuals are independent and tend to resist both external and internal expectations

Learning about these different personality categories helped me reframe my perspective of other people’s personalities and characteristics in such a way that made things SO much more understandable and applicable!

I was able to determine the different tendencies among my co-workers and found it much easier to communicate with them after understanding what their perspectives are on a deeper level. I found it easier to delegate and confront a conflict. I also found it easier to talk with patients and family members even! And learned not to take things personally from comments that were said to me. (Don’t get me wrong, these are all still challenging to me, but Gretchen helped me feel much more comfortable with these situations and I’m slowly getting better overtime.)

To learn more about Gretchen Rubin and her Four Tendencies framework, check out her book here and also take a look at her podcast website here!

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