Dear Nurse Marge,
I’m a new nurse grad and after a year found a job. I work in an ambulatory surgery center, and there’s only the four of us, plus A., the ‘head nurse’. It didn’t take me too long to get the hang of things, I thought — but you wouldn’t know that from A. She criticizes everything I do — but she criticizes everything everyone does, and my fellow nurses say “That’s just how she is, you have to let it roll off your back.” How do I learn how to do that? I thought I’d get used to it, but its been months and it’s still driving me crazy!
Dear Stressed Out,
The thing you have to do when dealing with criticism is consider the source. Are you getting harsh words from a patient in pain? They’re having a rough day; it’s easy to let it go. Have one friend who is sure your life would work so much better if you’d only do things her way? Who are you kidding, nurses never have time for friends anyway. Have a boss that constantly rips you apart but is integral in keeping your job? That’s the type of criticism you have to learn to ignore.
Some people will tell you you should listen to criticism and use it to improve your performance. These people may have a point, but you haven’t listened to them thus far, so why waste time thinking about that now? Besides, ignoring is a lot less work than self-improvement. You have to maintain your perspective here.
You don’t want to ignore people too overtly, especially if they’re in power. Do that, and they’ll make it even easier for you to ignore them, and that’s no good! So master the art of the smile and nod, the parrot response (you say back to her what she’s said to you, spinning it just enough so she thinks you think she’s a genius), and the artful dodge — the careful dance of being conveniently out of sight most of the time. Look to your colleagues: they are surely masters of it!
Earplugs are good too — especially if they’re really small!