First Fill is the quarterly newsletter produced by the Kansas New Practitioners Network.
by Angela Baalmann
With the wealth of knowledge, resources and tools available to us in today’s modern world, we can easily feel overwhelmed! For our members, we wanted to provide recommendations on what we consider to be some of the most helpful books for a pharmacy professional. In this corner of our newsletter, we will provide a quick summary of valuable information from a book pertaining to professional skills with a link for those who wish to purchase the full copy and learn more. This month’s topic relates to communication and how one can successfully navigate difficult conversations surrounding daily life.
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life is available on Amazon in paperback or as an etextbook.
One of the least discussed skills, but perhaps also one of the most important is the skill of effective, compassionate communication. Oftentimes we don’t think about how we communicate or the effects our communication will likely have before we communicate. It’s only after we’ve communicated and see negative results that we go back and see where we may have gone wrong in our initial communication methods. I personally lack the ability and skill to effectively, compassionately communicate, a judgement I’ve made based on many past experiences where my strategies and tools for communication have failed. This book was recommended to me by a few of my advisors in my time as a pharmacy student, the book is Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg. If you feel that your communication could use improving (and if we’re honest with ourselves, I think we all can come to this conclusion), then I would recommend you keep reading to learn a bit more about what I took away from this book and perhaps pick up the book itself once we’re finished.
Our goals in communication should always be to bring out the best in ourselves and in others through means of love, respect, understanding, appreciation, compassion and care. To do so, the authors recommend that we express ourselves honestly and listen honestly. To express ourselves honestly, we need to first understand what’s going on in our own emotional lives. Start by identifying your feelings, observe how you feel and try to find how you got there, rooting out the source or the need of that specific feeling. This is a very important step, one that will guide you when you then need to listen honestly. You can use this method to identify the feeling of others, their needs or sources from which their feelings stem from. Notice how neither of these steps involve a solution, but simply involve identifying and expressing feelings without judging them. We all have basic needs that need to be met in order to have satisfying and fulfilling lives, from these arise our feelings which impact our communication. It’s important to first recognize the feelings and needs we all have, on a personal level with ourselves and the other person(s) we are communicating with before moving forward.
Once you’ve done this, you can then show empathy towards the other person to reduce any negative feelings that may linger with you or with the other person. If you recognize that you’re upset or angry, it’s much easier to be empathetic with another person you’re communicating with who is also upset and angry. As you move on to expressing your feelings, a good way to communicate them is by describing them in terms of the needs you’ve identified and the feelings that resulted from them. For example, a form of expression might be “I need to feel rested and I didn’t get a chance to relax today after I found a list of things you had given me to do. Because of that I felt annoyed and tired.” Avoid interpretation and judgement, which tends to place blame on the other person and can impose a view of the situation that may not be entirely truthful or is not reflective of how the other person views the situation. An example of expression which would not be helpful might be “I got home and found a list of things for me to do from you, I can’t believe you would make me feel this way.” A comment like this places blame on the other person and interprets their action as one which is directed in a negative way towards the speaker. It also doesn’t truly identify how the person is feeling or focus on specific emotions that the other person can reflect on and respond to.
The author also recommends describing actions as “choices” rather than things you “must” do. This allows you to recognize and take responsibility for your own actions, the actions and choices which influence your emotions. The person who you are having a conversation with will not feel that you’re making them responsible for your actions or emotions, but instead can feel more free to involve themselves however they wish, knowing that you’re communicating in a respectful and responsible manner. An example of replacing your “musts” with “chooses” would be changing “I must go to work everyday, so I get tired when I come home” to “I choose to go to work everyday, which causes me to be tired when I come home”. Changing how we express our emotions and feelings allows situations to be normalized and feel more natural. By placing the responsibility on ourselves when we communicate, we can feel more open to expressing how we really feel without worrying about harming others or making them feel responsible. As a result, they hopefully will feel free from responsibility, appreciate the open communication of your emotions, and will reciprocate this response by being free and open with you as well. Consider picking up this book if you’re looking to improve your conversations and pick up tools which will help you as you communicate your way more easily through life.
Stay tuned for next quarter’s newsletter for another book club recommendation and review!