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Section 3
Track #3: Conquering your Conflict Avoidance

Table of Contents | NCCAP/NCTRC CE Booklet


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Note-Taking Exercise

What kind of relationship do you have with your administrator?  Your DON?

 

Who is a staff member whom you are uncomfortable around?

 

Do you feel fearful when there might be a potential for conflict with this person?

 

Envision your administrator.  Let's give your administrator the name Mr. Smith.  If your administrator is a female, you might transpose this in your mind to Ms. Smith, and change my pronouns from he's and him's to she's and her's.   Envision where this meeting will take place, perhaps with your Mr. Smith sitting behind his desk, and you in a chair across from him.  You have been smart enough, as mentioned on the previous track, to of course schedule an appointment with your Mr. Smith.  Next, imagine how you are feeling before you start this conversation.  Envision this scene seated across from your administrator, ready to discuss activity department compliance with federal guidelines. 

How did you feel before you started this conversation regarding activity department compliance with your administrator?  Nervous?  Anxious?  Afraid?  Even nauseous?  Or happy, relaxed, and at ease? 

 

The Two-Screen Technique
Think back to a time when you had a conflict with the first people in your life whom you viewed as authority figures.  Describe this incident:

 

 

Envision one scene of conflict from your past on the left side of your TV screen, perhaps with a thin line dividing the left and the right half.  Then on the right side of the screen, envision at whatever angle you would like, your future meeting with your administrator.  Now, envision your television screen. 

Create a statement based on reality using the word “not”:

 

Create a statement of reality, in other words facts about the present:

 

Envision the split screen with your photo of a past conflict on the left, and perhaps a live videocam shot of your future meeting with your administrator on the right.  State the "not statement" that the person on the left, using his or her name, is not your administrator.  Then, create a reality statement.  Repeat this until you are comfortable.

Transcript of Track 3

On the last track, I discussed the importance of a scheduled meeting with your administrator prior to meeting with your Director of Nursing in order to build clout or influence to get staff support from your D.O.N.  A second method of building clout or influence with your D.O.N suggested on the last track is to provide her with a brief, one page or less, summary of surveyor guidelines concerning nursing support and involvement in activities.

On this track, we will examine conquering your conflict avoidance through the “Two-Screen” technique.

However, let’s back up a minute.  What kind of relationship do you have with your administrator or D.O.N.?  If you view these people as a close friend, you might consider the content of this third track unnecessary.  Since this track deals with avoidance of possible conflicts you might think of it as applying to talking with another department head or staff member, that you do not have such a close relationship with.  You need to be focusing on someone with whom you are uncomfortable around.  It might be a CNA, if you are best friends with your administrator or Director of Nursing.

Let's talk specifically about avoidance of possible conflicts in the meeting with your administrator, since that meeting is the first cornerstone to building staff support.

When you hear the musical tone, turn the CD player off.  Envision your administrator.  Let's give your administrator the name Mr. Smith.  If your administrator is a female, you might transpose this in your mind to Ms. Smith, and change my pronouns from he's and him's to she's and her's.   Envision where this meeting will take place, perhaps with your Mr. Smith sitting behind his desk, and you in a chair across from him.  You have been smart enough, as mentioned on the previous track, to of course schedule an appointment with your Mr. Smith.  Next, imagine how you are feeling before you start this conversation.  Turn the CD player off and envision this scene seated across from your administrator, ready to discuss activity department compliance with federal guidelines.  How did you feel before you started this conversation regarding activity department compliance with your administrator?  Nervous?  Anxious?  Afraid?  Even nauseous?  Or happy, relaxed, and at ease?  Now envision this scene. 

A lot of how you feel prior to your meeting with your Mr. Smith, of course, depends on the type of relationship you have with him.  There are no right or wrong feelings here. 

If your palms are sweaty, your mouth is dry, and your heart is pounding, perhaps you needed to have done some homework before you walked into your administrator's office.  Maybe the symptoms of your avoidance of possible conflicts are not that extreme, and you are just feeling slightly anxious.  Or maybe you get along great with your administrator, and you need to be thinking of someone else at this point.  In any case, let's see what you can do to remove some of the discomfort in your relationship to your administrator or if you feel no discomfort at all, consider going to the second cornerstone in building support, your director of nursing, or another staff member.

I had an activity director I consulted with.  Her name was Annabelle.  She states she was extremely nervous at the thought of having to speak with her administrator about regulatory guidelines.  I explained to her that she would by-far increase her clout or power or influence to build department support with her director of nursing; if she stated to her D.O.N. that she, rather than speaking to her activity consultant, had spoken to Mr. Smith, the administrator.  Use the following as a mental or written exercise.

I had consulted with Annabelle for a while, so I felt comfortable asking her the following questions to think about.  "Let's try to separate out Mr. Smith from other people."  I asked her to forget about Mr. Smith for a minute, and think back to one of the first people she has had to ask for something, or had to assert herself with, where that interaction did not turn out so well.  Annabelle stated, "Well, this goes back a long time ago, and I know this sounds silly, but I can remember teachers really getting angry at me when I would ask a question in class.  So even though I didn't understand something, I became afraid to ask questions in school."  I asked her if she could remember a time before that.  She stated, "When I was about five, I can recall my aunt, who was quite tall and stern looking, gave me a huge glass of iced tea to drink.  I couldn't drink it all, and became panicky when she saw me pouring it on the ground behind the house."

Now it's your turn to do this first part of the exercise.  When you hear the musical tone, turn the CD player off and take as long as you need to think back to a time when you had a conflict with the first people in your life that you viewed as authority figures.

As you can see, this is the kind of track that you will replay many times.  Each time you do this exercise of recalling past conflicts, you will be at a different point in time, with different issues, and perhaps come up with new situations or other concepts about past conflicts you will review.

The second part of the exercise is to choose just one past conflict.  For Annabelle, she chose the pouring iced tea on the ground incident.  I then asked her to envision a television screen in front of her that is split in half with a line.  On the left half is a snapshot of her aunt's severe facial expression when she saw the iced tea being spilled on the ground.  On the right screen I asked Annabelle to create a snapshot in as much detail as she could of the future meeting with her administrator.  Annabelle decided to take an aerial view of the room as if from a small security camera mounted on the ceiling of her administrator's office. 

Now it's your turn. When you hear the musical tone, turn the CD player off and envision one scene of conflict from your past on the left side of your TV screen, perhaps with a thin line dividing the left and the right half.  Then on the right side of the screen, envision at whatever angle you would like, your future meeting with your administrator.  Now, envision your television screen.

So the first step is to recall past conflicts.  The second step is to choose one conflict and make it into a still photo; placing it on the left half of a screen with a visualization of the meeting with your administrator on the right

The third step is to create two statements based on reality.  The first uses the word "not." For example, Annabelle created the "not" statement, "My administrator is not my aunt."  She then focused her attention on the left, and then the right sides of the screen, until this obvious statement seemed to feel comfortable.
  The second statement is a statement of reality, or in other words facts about the present.  Annabelle chose the statement, "I am an Activity Director at XYZ nursing home, and Mr. Smith is my administrator.  I have worked here for a year and two months. "

The fourth step is to have the screen on the right containing the meeting with your administrator grow larger so that the old scene no longer is visible, and you focus on a visualization of you calmly and confidently talking to your administrator.

When you hear the musical tone, turn the CD player off and envision the split screen with your photo of a past conflict on the left, and perhaps a live videocam shot of your future meeting with your administrator on the right.  State the "not statement" that the person on the left, using his or her name, is not your administrator.  Then, create a reality statement.  Repeat this until you are comfortable.

The purpose of this exercise is to help you to create new thought patterns, as well as new emotional patterns concerning your possible avoidance of conflict that you may have regarding your administrator or another staff member.  You see, when you develop anticipatory anxiety concerning a future meeting with your administrator, your brain creates neural pathways to other situations that evoke similar uncomfortable feelings. Therefore, you are not only reacting to the meeting with your Mr. Smith, but your brain is reacting to any and all other times you have felt this same discomfort with an authority figure, such as the previous examples on this track of the iced tea spilling, or Annabelle's asking questions in class.

I strongly encourage you to play this track often to break old thought and feeling patterns that may be holding you back to getting or negotiating the support that you need for your program.   I have just described this Two-Screen Method to use to decrease anticipatory anxiety regarding the meeting with your administrator.  Apply the Two Screen Technique where appropriate to your Director of Nursing, Dietary Supervisor, Charge Nurse, CNA, Activity Staff Member, volunteer, etc.

If you are experiencing avoidance of conflict regarding presenting information about these regulatory guidelines, I feel very strongly that you need to use this or another technique of your own to decrease your avoidance of asserting yourself; if you are to have any hope of acquiring the department head and staff support you desire.  Agree? 

This track has dealt with using the “Two-Screen” technique to conquer your conflict avoidance.

The next track will deal with priorities and strategies for your Wish List regarding staff support.


NCCAP/NCTRC CE Booklet
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