I have been working on my next assignment this week which is all about appropriate forms of communication and overcoming any barriers which might hinder communication. One thing I never really thought about is that I really do communicate with a lot of people on a daily basis. I often joke that I prefer the deceased to the living (maybe sometimes less of a joke, often more closer to the truth…), but as much as I really do get to spend a great deal of time with the dead I also speak to and communicate with an awful lot of living people who I don’t mind at all. Honestly, most of the time I really don’t.
This week saw the first of the regular Death Café’s at work, as well as the July instalment of our regular event. There’s a lot of communication there, people look to me to host and explain certain aspects which I have to do with a certain amount of confidence but also measure my responses appropriately. For example, I didn’t explain eye retrieval to Death Café attendees in the same way I would explain it to a colleague. My language is different and my tone is in some ways also. This week, like many others, I have spoken with pathologists, doctors, nurses, funeral directors, police officers, Coroner’s officers, bereaved family members and other hospital staff. It has taken beginning to work on this assignment to really acknowledge just how much I communicate on a daily basis and how I have adapted in this way.
I think I have said before, I have never felt so confident in my life since finding this career and beginning. I have always attributed confidence with arrogance, something I have had long discussions with my counsellor about trying to pick apart why I make this connection and how to avoid feeling that way. Many people have this assumption too however, finding anyone with an ounce of confidence and equalling that to arrogance in the subject (particularly the case with women but I’ll leave that discussion for another day). Therefore, this immediately turns a positive character trait into a seemingly negative one, destroying the empowerment of the confident person.
In many ways, my work has made me confident because I have to be. In training nurses, I have to confidently be able to convey what they need to learn and why. In discussing aspects of my work with the police or members of the Coroner’s office I need them to know that they can trust what I am saying and that I will help them. Bereaved family members need information or support at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives and I need to show them that I am there to help them in any way I can.
I think turning 30 really changed my viewpoint on life and made me more confident, or at least more outspoken than I was before. I know that my fiancé puts a lot of my confidence down to him, but I do think that a huge part of my confidence is born of necessity and that is no bad thing. Having to think about how you communicate with people is really fascinating because what you realise is that a lot of it is just common sense or comes utterly naturally without even thinking about it. As humans we adapt the way we speak all the time, we have ‘phone voices’, we speak to children and elderly people differently, we change all the time probably without even being aware of it. I guess my point of this was to say, isn’t that awesome. Human beings amaze me all the time.
This weekend I’ll be continuing to work on my assignment and then my focus shifts to my anatomy and physiology exam which I think will take over my life not dissimilarly to microbiology. If you see me I’ll be thinking of the Circle of Willis and types of circulation because I’m starting with the Cardiovascular system.