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Section 20
The Basics Regarding Dealing Effectively with Distracters, Detours, and Diversions

Table of Contents

As indicated in the previous section, the best “broken record” statement is short and has been worded in such a reasonable manner that the other department head or staff member will feel encouraged to listen and take action to comply with your request.  You, of course, try to head off any negative reactions to your statements by making your points without attacking, even subtly, the other person.  This is easy with your first request for support.  But your need to retaliate, even subtly, may become more heightened if this is your tenth or eleventh request.  For this reason examine each line of your script to see if it maintains a positive focus. 

The key with any of these support-creating techniques is to not lose your cool, get frustrated, or take what you may view as continual non-compliance personally.  You start to take it personally when you feel the behavior of others is a reflection upon your value as a person and/or the value of your Activity program and staff. 

In order to not take these “busy and short” and other remarks personally, I suggest you consider thinking of these replies, when lack of follow-through is brought to the staff member’s attention, as defensive maneuvers or “diversions” that are taken by the other staff member.  By defensive maneuvers or diversions, I mean to a certain extent “busy and short” or another reason is the way the other staff member has of defending the actions of his or her department.  Thus they are protecting or insulating themselves and their staff from making the change you are requesting.

However, if you spend a lot of time focusing on the other department head or staff member’s defensive remarks by taking them personally, their reasons for noncompliance can sidetrack you from your goal of gaining department head and staff support.  Agree?

Of course, even with a “perfect” script developed in the previous sections of this Manual, the other staff member is going to have some reactions. These might consist only of tagging a simple question to each of your lines. “Is that the way you see me?” “Is that the way you feel?” and so on. To such questions you need only answer “yes” before you go on with your script, if you are not finished.  Beyond these mild sociable reactions, however, is a host of defensive detours or diversions, defending their actions that can occur.

So, rather than viewing these defensive diversions of their staff’s actions
1.  as excuse making
2.  by taking it personally that other things are more important than your activity program,
3.  by being defensive yourself
4.  or by interpreting the response as a put down or putting you off... 
view their statements as merely a way of detouring you or diverting you from your goal of staff support in whatever area you are seeking.  View their excuse as a sort of smoke-screen created to avoid the discomfort of change and discomfort regarding asking their staff to change old habits or old behaviors. 

Let’s face it: people, in general, do not like to change even if the change is a better way and for the good of the residents.  Can you see how with your Culture Change compliance requests, this nursing staff member, for example, may feel behind the eight ball?  For example, your DON may be the one that has to play the “heavy” regarding telling her Charge Nurse about the non-compliant CAN, who did not transport a resident or provide them with the activity you left in the resident’s room. 

Since in general people don’t like to change, a major portion of the rest of this Manual will deal with various detours, distractions, or diversions staff communicate to you in order to protect themselves from the stress of the change you are requesting.  You use distracters… they use distracters … I use distracters … we all do.  I will call these distracting devises “diversions”   The word “diversion” is the most neutral term I could think of for the verbal dance between activity director and staff that occurs when you request support and do not get it.  If you can think of a better word to describe this verbal dance, so to speak, besides “diversion,” use it.  In short, never think of the unsupportive staff member as bad, wrong, defective, cruel, or in some other negative light.  If you do, even at a minimal level, your negative self talk will be conveyed in negative energy projected at the very individual from whom you are seeking support.  Instead, as Anthony Robins would say, “upgrade your vocabulary”.  Insert your own positive adjectives into the last column.

Negative Term

Positive, more Realistic Term

Create Positive Terms to Replace Negative Ones








Wanting to decrease their stress level



Having different priorities than yours


So in the future when you ask staff to donate something or attend the pitch-in or Halloween party or change a schedule, if you do not receive support; when you discuss this with the staff member listen for the diversion they reply with.  Any replay that is short of saying “Yes (I will attend the Halloween Party.)” is probably some form of a diversion.  Here are the types of diversions for which you will be getting specific strategies to change a diversion into a supportive action on the part of the Department Head or staff member.  Diversions include the following list.  When you have finished this Manual complete the table below as a summary of action to be taken.


                        Staff Member Name

“Not Now”


Irrelevant Chatter








Verbal Abuse




“I intended to…”


Poor Me


Physical Symptoms


Negative Body Language






Forward to Section 21
Back to Section 19

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