There are many different places with many different rules, codes of conduct, and expected behaviors that once can find themselves. That’s what makes being confident 24/7 so hard. In one place one thing is expected/acceptable and in the next place you find yourself it’s well…. not at all. It can be overwhelming to keep all these expectations and “rules” in order and straight in your already very busy head. This feeling often results in uneasiness or the feeling of being out of place which in turn sends off a signal to other people around you. A signal that says maybe you aren’t comfortable with who you are, that maybe your confidence could use a boost. This certainly isn’t the case, right? Your just uncomfortable because you aren’t sure what is deemed appropriate or not. You find yourself becoming a little quieter, jumbling the words you do manage to get out, hesitating before you make any movement, and possibly you notice that you are even a little shaky. These are all completely normal reactions to an uncomfortable situation. But why should we let these little cues define who we are in that moment? Just because we feel that way doesn’t mean we need to show it. Just knowing one of two things that are expected of you at any given place will give the person next to you the “wow, this person knows how to act” kind of impression, and that’s just what we want even if we aren’t feeling that same impression ourselves.
Over the next a couple weeks I am going to try to take you places where expectations/behaviors might be a little different from your everyday life. If you just take one thing away from each blog post I promise you will feel more comfortable and confident the next time you find yourself in that place (well, at least the people around you will feel that way). First up is the dreaded hospital. No one likes going to the hospital. It’s often times depressing, sterile, and unfriendly. But at one point or another we will all have to visit someone there whether it be a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend, or co-worker. It’s one of those places that sometimes you need to force yourself to go to because it’s the right thing to do. Fortunately, there are some readily available tips and guidelines to help visitors feel more comfortable and well, confident with their visit.
*Don’t be afraid to call ahead. It’s always good to double check if visitors are allowed, what the visiting hours are, and what types are gifts/food are permitted. Every hospital is a little different. This is especially helpful if you aren’t completely sure what the patient’s current health status is or what type of diet they are on.
*Try to avoid visiting in large groups. I know you probably don’t want to go alone so it’s o.k. to bring a friend of two but your whole pack of 12 girlfriends probably isn’t the best idea. Large groups of people can be very overwhelming to someone trying to recover and get better- it’s just plain tiring. Also not to mention hospital rooms are usually on the smaller side and your visitor might even have a roommate…
*Try to leave any small children at home. I know that sometimes this is impossible to do but try to find a time to visit when someone else is free to watch your children for a while. Hospitals are scary to adults, imagine what they seem and look like in a child’s eye. Children are also unaware of how to act in a hospital setting, their innocence can turn into a disruption to another patient.
*Consciously try to talk in a slightly softer voice than normal. The people you are with or visiting should still be able to hear you at a comfortable distance, no need to whisper, but you need to keep in mind that there are many other people in neighboring rooms or possibly in the same room that are trying to sleep/rest.
*Minimize cell phone usage. Only pick up incoming calls in the case of an absolute emergency while visiting the hospital. If you must make a call step out of the room and go down to the lobby where noise level doesn’t matter as much.
*Keep your visit short. I think the ideal visiting time for a friend or co-worker is 15-20 minutes (trust me, this feels like a lifetime) but for family feel free to stay a little longer if you want. It takes a lot out of a recovering patient to visit with someone and the reality is you probably aren’t the only visitor. Just knowing that you stopped in for a few minutes will brighten that persons day.
*Don’t assume physical contact is o.k. I know it’s a natural reaction to want to hug a friend in need but before you do so ask if it’s alright. You don’t know where the patient is feeling pain or how easy it is to move. Once you get permission- hug away!
*If your the patient, nurse, or doctor asks you to not visit then it’s simple- don’t visit. There is probably a good reason or the patient simply just wants their own privacy. Even if you plan on just stopping in for a few minutes, don’t do it. It’s rude and inconsiderate even with the best of intentions.
*If you are sick, even if it’s the slightest cold, don’t visit someone at the hospital. Even if your sickness isn’t a threat to them, it’s a threat to someone else staying in that hospital. There are a lot of very sick and elderly people in every hospital and the last thing you want to do is spread a nasty germ around.
*If you are visiting while a nurse or doctor comes into the room, politely step outside the room until he or she is done. This creates more room for them to work and gives the patient a feeling that you respecting their privacy and are really just interested in visiting them, nothing else.
*That being said, don’t pry into private questions or test results. If the patient feels like sharing, they will share. But it is good to show an interest. Ask how they are feeling, what their symptoms are, what they are doing to get better, etc. Take an interest in their disease, surgery, etc. It’s nice to know that the people who you care about also care about you as well. Taking an interest in someone else’s life makes them feel important.
*Don’t talk about negative things such as work drama, the failing economy, or huge blowout fight within your group of friends. The patient shouldn’t have to have anything else on his or her mind besides getting better. They will find out who got fired for what or who isn’t friends with who anymore once they get home. But you should talk about how much they are missed or funny things that have happened. It is very easy to start to feel isolated especially with longer hospital stays. If you can make the patient still feel somewhat connected (in a good way) to the workplace or your group of friends that’s awesome.
*Try not to sit on the bed or play with equipment. The bed and it’s settings are made just for the patient. There are often one or two chairs in the room meant for guests. If there aren’t any chairs you can manage to stand for 20 minutes- at least you aren’t the one in the hospital bed. Also be wary of the medical equipment. Try not to bump into it or move it. Even if the patient asks you to press a button or adjust something tell them you would feel more comfortable if a nurse did it and offer to page someone for them. You don’t want to be responsibly for messing something up or administering too much medicine, etc.
Nothing will make a hospital visit easy but they are certainly ways to feel more comfortable and confident with your visit. If you just abide by a couple of these “rules” no one will be able to tell just how nervous and uncomfortable you really are. Half the battle of confidence is knowing how to pretend.
I wonder where next week will take us……….