Working as a travelling nurse can provide opportunities to see new places, learn new things, and meet new people. Although, this means that you’re often the new person. Sometimes it’s fun when everything about the job, the people, and the environment, is fresh and exciting. But it can also be stressful if you’re not sure if you fit in.
Most of us want to fit in with our coworkers, and for good reason. Good working relationships can make us more productive, help us provide better care, open lines of communication—and comfortable working relationships can just make the day go better. It may seem as if you’re working a temporary assignment that developing workplace relationships isn’t essential. But spending time focusing on positive co-worker relationships may make the assignment a little more enjoyable.
Be Aware of Body Language
Start each assignment off on the right foot by greeting people with a smile—even if you’re tired, or you just don’t feel like it. First impressions are often when people make their assumptions about the other person. When we meet someone new, we’re often more aware of their body language and tone than what they’re saying. Make eye contact and be aware of whether you’re presenting with a non-dominant stance and open posture. Listen to what they say and nod to show that you’re paying attention and that what they say matters.
Many people are uncomfortable with change and uncertainty, don’t give them a reason to be by unintentionally sending the message that you’re aloof or unfriendly by crossing your arms, frowning, or starting the conversation off on a negative note with a complaint. You might assume they should be happy you’re there to help, but show them that you’re happy to be there. Try to learn names, or check their name badge, so you can address them personally when you see them later that day. That little bit of extra effort might go a long way in making your assignment more satisfactory.
Consider How You Say It
If you’re working travel assignments to broaden your horizons and get a break from the same old, same old, this may provide you with the advantage of determining more efficient and effective ways to work. It’s tempting to share your expertise with your new coworkers. Although it’s good to share your knowledge, but the reception for it will depend largely on how you present the information.
It’s not always what you say, but how you say it. Don’t force your idea but instead find a way to share ideas constructively, so they feel they’re appreciated and understood. If you’re hearing that, it’s the way they’ve always done things, don’t be quick to criticize their methods. Try not to come across as condescending. You can mention the way that you do things, by being careful to use words like “I prefer to” instead of “you should”, and leave it up to them whether they’d like to try it your way. If you’re not familiar with a task, don’t exaggerate your skills. This is an opportunity for your new coworkers to show you their way. You may even find their way is better.
Observe the Culture
Some staff might give you a warm welcome because they see you as the hero if they’ve been overwhelmed and on the verge of burnout. But other staff might feel threatened having a new coworker—even if it’s temporarily. Some may fear you’re ‘raising the bar’ on expectations if they aren’t working at your productivity level. Continue to focus on doing your job well and not compromising your work ethic. Take the time to observe the culture and be aware that negativity can be contagious and try not to get infected.
Other methods to improve lines of communication include:
- Listen more than you talk. Consider what they’re dealing with and try to be the balm to their stress rather than contributing to it. Ask what you can do to help ease their burden that day.
- Be authentic and genuine, and try to find commonalities despite differences to build rapport and develop a trusting working relationship.
- Don’t get pulled into gossip. Some may try to get you to take sides, and most likely whatever side you choose will be the losing side.
- Watch your humor. Although most people like a good laugh, some may not understand if you’re using sarcasm, or wouldn’t appreciate unsavory jokes, or ones at others expense.
Broaden Your Network
Working as a travel nurse can provide the benefit of testing different work environments while acquiring new skills and knowledge. Make the most of your time by striving to utilize positive communication methods to develop good working relationships with your new coworkers. This can make the time you spend more productive and enjoyable while broadening your professional network.