Regardless of their specialty, nurses encounter a spectrum of patient emotions every day. While their reassuring presence and medical capabilities are welcomed by most, there are times when nurses are called upon to be both healer and mediator. One of the most valuable skills that a nurse can develop is the ability to effectively interact with an angry patient. The following seven tips outlined below, when repeatedly and consistently implemented, can help a nurse defuse potential conflicts with patients.
1. Don’t Take It Personally
Many within the mental health profession consider anger to be a secondary emotion, meaning it is used to protect oneself from other feelings of vulnerability (i.e. humiliation, rejection, sadness, fear, etc.). While it may seem like a patient is lashing out at you personally, the reality is that they are most likely having an emotional response to a situation that does not even involve you. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Therefore, the golden rule when dealing with an angry patient is to not take anything they say or do personally. By reminding yourself that the patient’s emotions are misplaced, you can circumvent feelings of being attacked and needing to respond aggressively. Continue reading