1. Section Editor(s): Laskowski-Jones, Linda MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM

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Ever hear the phrase, Be sure to engage the brain before putting the mouth into gear? Some days I really do wish more people would heed that advice rather than blurt out-or write-exactly the wrong thing at the tempting moment. Whether we're at work, at home, or in social settings, I'll venture to say that our lives would be a lot more pleasant if people were a bit less free with their speech.

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Truth be told, we all think things that should never pass our lips (or be put on paper or launched into cyberspace as a toxic blastogram). However, it takes impulse control and a healthy measure of emotional intelligence to control the urge, especially in emotionally charged situations.


Of course, there are those who believe that if they think it or feel it, then they have the right to express it, fact or opinion, however the spirit moves them. They have a point: It's called freedom of speech. But with freedom comes responsibility, as well as owning the repercussions, which can be significant.


Words can wound, sometimes severely, and lead to long-lasting pain or even irreconcilable differences that influence people to exit stage left from jobs or relationships. Consider too the collateral damage from the atmosphere of negativity that's created; unchecked, it can permeate a nursing unit, a family, or a social network. Words can take on a life of their own, true or not. And if patients are unwitting witnesses to the fray, satisfaction suffers. These interactions don't inspire confidence or engender warm feelings about teamwork in the healthcare setting.


So, is the instigator wrong? In the approach, most definitely. In having the concern, perhaps not. The issue may be a valid one, but poor delivery will always make a bad situation worse. Rather than solve the problem, a verbal assault shatters the foundation of relationships and causes fixable problems to be lost in the rubble of hurt feelings. Damage control becomes necessary.


A mentor once gave me some great advice that's worth passing along: Consider the relationship you want to have with a person at the end of the interaction; let that guide what you say. Words can hurt or heal and are a direct reflection of character. It's important to choose them wisely.


Until next time-


Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM

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Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2013 Vice President: Emergency & Trauma Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.