Gratitude: Let it stick like Velcro

Several years ago, as I was collecting stories from nurses about their work, I learned a very troubling fact. Most nurses I interviewed didn’t accept compliments from patients very well. They would hear patients’ statements of gratitude but not really let them stick.

While the nurses agreed that they were making a difference in the lives of their patients and families, they would often shrug off compliments. They would say, “It’s just what I do.” Or, “It’s my job.” Or, “It’s not a big deal.” Compliments slid off like they had landed on Teflon.

This phenomenon isn’t unique to nursing. I see it frequently among many healthcare professionals. Humility is good, but don’t let it prevent you from taking in the gratitude shown by others.

Great communication takes active listening, yet we turn a deaf ear to compliments. When a patient compliments you or tells you that you made a difference, don’t shrug it off. Listen as intently as if they were telling you about their health needs. Hear them. Let it stick like Velcro.
Having a strong connection to purpose is essential in a fulfilling career and life. A compliment about the care you give or the impact you are making contributes to your sense of purpose if you let it stick.

Even if you don’t get a compliment from someone, you likely know when you have made a difference. Stop and give yourself a moment of gratitude. Make those good moments stick like Velcro and notice the difference it makes. The main side effect is a strong sense of joy.

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