When I was in nurse training, it was drilled into us that pain is what the patient says it is.
In other words, it wasn’t for us to dismiss a patient’s pain based on our judgement of whether it was valid or not.
I find applying this principle is the ethical and right thing to do in lots of scenarios.
- Stress is what a person says it is.
- Discomfort is what a person says it is.
- Inappropriate language or behaviour is what the recipient says it is.
- Unhappiness is what the person experiencing it says it is.
- A glass ceiling is what the person trying to break through says it is.
In fact, this principle relieves us of any obligation, effort or energy to judge others. One less thing…!
And it leaves us with just one decision to make…how best to react. When we accept someone’s declaration of pain as valid because they say it is – there is only one way to react.
And that is to catch them gently.
“I see you struggling – please know you are not alone”
“I’m glad you told me. What can I do to help?”
“I’m sorry to hear you are experiencing that. Let me know what I can do”
It’s easy to catch someone we love gently. More challenging to catch someone we don’t get on with gently.
But that might be the most important action you take this week.
And because leadership is not easy – make sure you spend lots of time with people who catch you gently.