Conflict, Anger and Stress Management in Hospital Counselling

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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For every five or ten polite visitors, inevitably there are one or two who can be quite rude, nasty and a drain on your patience. Be thankful to them, because – (1) they keep you on your toes and increase your efficiency (2) they make you appreciate the other polite people, and (3) they make you realize how lucky you are that you are not so short-tempered and stupid as they are!

Wherever large number of people move in and out, there is bound to be conflict. And if the majority of the persons coming in are either sick, or tired, or anxious or frustrated, there is bound to be more conflict. Managing such people is not easy – but it is not impossible either. It starts with your attitude and approach to the issue. Let us work on it …..

Patients will inevitably be impatient. And the first person(s) they can get out their impatience on – are the front office staff. The way you respond lays the foundation for the relationship they are likely to have with the hospital, how satisfied and comfortable they feel, and whether they will cooperate with the procedures etc. despite their dissatisfaction.

To handle conflict situations and impatient patients, you need to:

  1. Keep continuous tab on your stress levels and ensure that you are taking up stress relief activities suitable to your temperament and schedule.
  2. Resolve personal and family issues, or keep them in abeyance when you come to work.
  3. Periodically introspect on where your life is headed, set long-term and short-term goals.
  4. Ensure that past baggage or trauma is mentally resolved, and you have accepted it.
  5. Look upon challenges positively, as a means of learning and enhancing your capability.
  6. Have genuine empathy for everyone who comes before you, and understand that every individual is coming unwillingly and unhappily to hospital.
  7. Be creative in thinking “win-win” and devising ways to defuse tension.
  8. Develop communication skills, particularly Assertiveness, and review your self-esteem.
  9. Enhance your sense of humour, which is a strong indicator of your mental health.
  10. Seek ways and means to talk out and get over the day-to- day incidents of tension.

Good interpersonal relationships give us more happiness and fulfillment in life than anything else. Since your job itself entails building relationships, it is a great advantage …. you are actually being paid to improve your own quality of life! As along as you understand that when you are being nice to people, handling difficult situations, managing to deal with rude and angry individuals, you are actually doing yourself a favour – you will keep enjoying life.

An elderly lady was daintily driving her car, and stopped at a traffic signal. When the light turned green and she tried to move forward, her engine suddenly switched off. By the time she could re-start, a haughty gentleman right behind her started honking loudly. This shook her up and in her anxiety she could not start the car. The man was getting louder and angrier. She then took out the keys, stepped out of the car, went to the gentleman sitting in his car behind, and said, “If you don’t mind, here are the keys. Can you please try and start my car, and in the meanwhile I will sit in your car and blow the horn for you.”

There are various proven techniques for management of stress and anger, of building your communication and interpersonal skills. If you require free counselling in any of these or related issues, feel free to get in touch with us.

About the author

This website was initially conceived and designed by the late Sitaram N
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