I’m all for political correctness and protection of self in our workplaces but this week a story I heard made me grieve for the loss of expression of personality. It’s hard being a nurse. The hours we work and the antisocial shifts, trying to stay awake all night when everyone else is curled up in bed with their dogs and cats. Having to work on Sundays and Saturday nights when everyone else is out finding a husband, we give up so much.
Knowing you are going to be working with someone you can have a laugh with amongst the death and despair can make a huge difference to being able to stay awake or not. We witness so much as nurses as well and sometimes it’s hard to keep your act together when you are witnessing the things that we become a part of. It’s not just nurses, but paramedics and police, all of the community workers that as part of their jobs witness all that is fragile with our lives. But now, it seems that vexatious claims against people as punitive action means that people are too scared to let their personalities shine and must always be on guard that someone is going to choose to be offended by what they say.
I say choose to be offended because we do choose how we respond to someone and the way that they are. Personality is a wonderful thing and quirky or irreverent personality and humour makes life interesting and enriches us. I do not believe in being disrespectful to anyone ever but I do believe that you must take a comment in the manner in which it is meant. If you know someone and you have known them for thirty years, you know they are a good person with a great sense of humour, you take their comments as they are meant, or you tell them to tone it down. I’m scared that soon we won’t be able to have a joke or laugh at a situation or see the lighter side of life because every utterance can be misconstrued as being sexist, misogynistic, racist or otherwise. I think one of the reasons we are seeing the rise of populist leaders in the world is in response to bland politically correct plain boredom. Laughter, humour and compassion can go hand in hand.
It makes the trails of life easier, laughter releases endorphins and makes us feel better. If we feel better we work better. We can care for our patients better if we feel better. It’s not in our best interests to kill off personality, we need to be resilient enough to embrace those amongst us that enrich our lives by their unique personalities.
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