I have learned from all my years in management that not everyone communicates the same way. And as a manager, we need to allow people to communicate to us in their own way. 

I may be a type A, bottom-line kind of gal when it comes to work, but not everybody is going to come to me and get right to the point. We need to meet people where they are and not show frustration. That’s our role. 

I once had a DON from Georgia who would answer an emailed question with a three-paragraph run on sentence. I often struggled trying to figure out just what the heck those seemingly random thoughts and words meant. Until I shared it with the regional nurse who had no trouble figuring out. Turns out, that DON was speaking Southern. Who knew!

Now, do not mistake me. This is no disrespect to anyone or anything Southern. It was a learning opportunity on my part. You see, I learned that people in the South can take just about anything and turn it into a long, passionate story.

Here’s an example. I was in a facility in a Southern state once when the ADON came in just a smidge late. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry I am late. I stopped to pick up lunch at the Quick Mart and the guy in front of me was paying for his gas with change,” the story came out this way:

“I am so sorry I am late. I had to stop off at the Quick Mart to get something for lunch because when I went to fix my lunch last night, there just wasn’t anything to fix lunch with. Henry, that’s my husband, it was his turn to go to the Walmart for groceries, we’re a modern family and since we both work, we share duties, anyway, he was supposed to get groceries yesterday cause it was his day off but when he was on the way to the Walmart, the school called and Balor was in the nurse’s office. Now he first thought Balor was faking because he had a math test and he hates math; if had been a history test, well, that’d been a different story, but anyway, Henry went to school and there was Balor, throwing up so much he looked like he was trying to reenact that pea soup scene from the movie ‘The Exorcist.’ I told Balor not to eat that hotdog from the Tuesday at junior baseball practice but do you think he’d listen to his momma?

Anyway, so Henry came home with Baylor but never told me he didn’t stop at the Walmart until after I got home or I’d a gone after work. Luckily, I had that barbeque I put up over the weekend in the freezer so I could fix Henry and the other kids dinner, but there was nothing for lunch. I gave the kids money to buy lunch but, Lord, I just know what the other kids’ mommas are gonna say about me having my kids buy school lunch instead of bringing a homemade lunch. Anyway, so when I went to the Quick Mart and picked up this salad for lunch, they make a good salad, it’s so fresh, so, there was this man in front of me who had a nice dark blue Ford F-150 parked at pump 9, he’s paying for $40 of gas with change. Why would someone with a nice Ford F-150, I’m pretty sure it was new, need to pay with change? Lord, you should have seen the line of people behind me fussin’ and a cussin’! Thank the Lord he paid mostly in quarters but there was dimes and some nickels too! Anyway, that’s why I’m late.” 

Now, many of you knowing me, probably thought my head was exploding at this point. But honestly, I was entertained and thinking, “I’m a comedian and this is going to make one great routine and blog.”

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real-life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates. 

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.