In Chapter One, Building Healthy Relationships, there is a specific slide about appropriate boundaries. Typically, this discussion focuses on caregivers and the individuals in their care, however, Michael Benoit, LPN had a different take on this which is worth sharing!
A brief moment during the MANDT training focuses on the question, Are we friends? as it pertains to the provider-client relationship. Yet, this is also a pertinent question that may come up between team members. In my time as a nurse in home health, post-acute care and rehab, and skilled nursing with a focus on mental health, I’ve had a few coworkers answer this question rather plainly: “I’m not here to make friends.”
Sadly, this statement is usually precluded by an incident of team friction. “I’m not here to make friends” is usually the reason given for poor peer-to-peer interactions, or lack of dignity and respect offered to team members.
After hearing this phrase a few times from one particular team member, I took a moment with this team member to discuss working together, and “not being here to make friends.” What I said to her follows:
“I understand that you aren’t here to make friends. I’m not really here to make friends either. So; I’m probably not going to add you on Facebook, you aren’t invited to Christmas, we won’t be going out for a drink after work, you aren’t coming to my kids’ birthday, and we won’t be having any barbecues together. However, we work together almost every day. Our work can be difficult and stressful. At times, our work can feel thankless. So, while we have to spend these hours together, let’s do what we can to not become sources of stress for each other, and maybe find some moments where we can enjoy each other’s teamwork to make our day a little bit better.”
Following this interaction, you might now ask again “Did you become friends?” The answer, no. We are not friends. There have been no barbecues, face-book posts, or Christmas gift exchanges. However, we have a strong, respectful, and healthy working relationship supported by healthy professional boundaries.
Michael Benoit LPN