Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Is I'm Sorry Really So Bad?

An ARNP asked me, “why do you always say you’re sorry when you call me?”

My response:  Because I really am sorry that I’m bothering you! 

All of the literature on communication between nurses and physicians and other providers asserts that nurses should not begin with an apology.  Lindaman (1995) says that when you apologize in the context of contacting a provider for patient care issues, you diminish your own value.  

(In the description of Lindaman as an author, she is described as a “head nurse”, which shows you how long this advice of not apologizing has been around)

Honestly, I kind of got used to apologizing when I realized that a physician I worked with regularly really responded to apologies.  It seemed to have an effect opposite of what the literature says – he actually seemed to have more respect for those who apologized.  

I guess that starting with an apology hasn’t been a concern of mine because I don’t have that much trouble getting what I believe patients need from providers.  After all, I’m old and I’m bold.  Apparently, I’m able to, as Lindaman puts it “set a tone that assumes that compliance is inevitable” (Great phrase, isn’t it?”).

What do you think?  Is starting with I’m Sorry really so bad?

Lindaman, C. (1995). Talking to Physicians about Pain Control. The American Journal of Nursing, 95(1), 36-37. doi:10.2307/3471499

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