“How do Childhood Experiences Influence Even Professional Adults’ Relationships at Work?”

If someone asked you “who is the most challenging peer you have ever worked with”, I bet a name would quickly come to mind (maybe even several)!  Would you describe that person as a know-it-all conversation monopolizer, a two-faced backbiter, a cold, sarcastic put-downer or (you fill in the blank)?   While relationship behaviors are learned, the reasons for them may include different people’s view of other people and the world in general.

When people experience some form of abuse, neglect or family disruption, such as their parent’s divorcing or one parent dying while they were growing up, they may struggle with having genuine, trusting relationships as adults.  The good news is that many professional caregivers such as nurses who may also have experienced less than perfect childhoods often choose to protect and care for those who cannot care for themselves independently and do their jobs exceptionally well.

Those same professionals, though, may have trouble developing and keeping positive relationships with those who don’t need them—their peers.  While a peer cannot heal a co-worker, understanding the probable reasons for their challenging behaviors hopefully will help them have a kinder view of the people they may find, well, hard to love.  Remembering these people may have been deeply hurt and their behaviors were probably survival tactics when they were younger, or that they had no positive role models to teach them healthier ways to interact, may lessen their negative impact.

Of course, if you are working with someone who has become aggressive, overly intrusive, or is damaging your reputation with misinformation, etc. you may also wish to assertively let them know the behavior is not acceptable. A note here:  try using the words “not acceptable” which shows you are setting healthy boundaries rather than “inappropriate” which is often viewed as being judgmental.

Even caretakers are not immune from the effects of adverse childhood experiences, but trying to be as empathic with them as we are with some patients/clients’ less than optimal behavior can help us have a less stressful response when working with them!

 

 

 

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