Monday, 14 March 2016

Cups & Saucers

The Ward I worked on, prior to it's demolition 

Recently I was in a situation where someone in a position of authority gave a speech that sucked .
I disagreed with half of what was being said and for most of how it was being delivered and found myself saying as much.
My counter argument, as I expected, wasn't accepted , so I had to fall back on that statement  of someone who won't back down which is  " we will have to agree to differ".
We will agree to differ , to some may sound like a cope out, but I don't think it is......agree to differ in my view,  is a line in the sand.
The older I get, the easier, I find to make a stand. A stand for the big things as well as the little ones  and institutionalized apathy and low level bullying are things that really get on my tits.

I am reminded of a little war, I was involved  with a long time ago now. It was a war over saucers!
In 1983 I worked on a long stay psychiatric ward as a student nurse. The patients all had been in hospital most of their lives ( as had many of the staff) , there was little to non therepeutic care given and what was on offer was more prison orientated that hospital.
The patients were cared for in so much as they were clean and fed and kept warm and safe, but the atmosphere felt as grey as the neat suits , the male staff worked in.

One of my first duties was to make the patient's tea at suppertime. The tea was brewed in one very large teapot. First you put in the tea, then the boiling water. You stirred the mixture, then added milk and sugar! All in one pot. And each patient got the same drink,regardless of want.
All but one patient was offered their drinks in nhs cups. No saucers were used.
I was told that they were never used.

Now I was a shy 20 year old then and,I kept my eyes open and my mouth shut when in the clinical area, but the no saucer rule didn't sit well with me and from day one, I refused to play the game.
When I gave out the tea ,saucers  were always used.
This raised eyebrows for sure, and even one senior staff member openenly referred to me as a" being a poof" for insisting on the change, but through quiet consistancy, I got my way,
It was a small, line in the sand victory.

In any organisation , everyone should be encouraged to take little leads on things. To be able to say their piece , to question the status quo, and to agree to differ when debating a point.

That's good leadership .



63 comments:

  1. I agree totally with this view John. I have a friend who I see a lot of and we go out together three or times a week - for coffee, for meals etc. She never ever takes anyting of which she disapproves without saying so - and I admire her greatly for it. Sometimes it makes enemies but one has to be true to oneself.

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    1. So true !
      To say nothing is to accept.

      cheers, parsnip

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  2. Healthy workplaces are places where the staff feel committed. Having a voice is important and good leaders are also good listeners. The top-down "do what I say" method creates resentment and ultimately is far less efficient in achieving the goals of the workplace.

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  3. I really do love you!!! You are a good person - and that is special.

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  4. Those 'little' things help preserve (or build) a person's sense of dignity; you obviously were aware of that.

    I was an absolute mouse when younger, that began changing when my daughter was born...

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  5. A small but worthy victory John. I love the fact that YOU could be bothered to treat these people as worthy of being bothered about. We need to clone you x

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    1. Lisa, thank you but the point of the post was about leadership and attitudes in general...a company, an organisation any company any oganisation needs good leadership, it needs to allow debate and questioning from all........my stand with the saucers only worked because the staff eventually saw the sense of it.......i was lucky because i stood myground...but so many workers are not allowed to speak because the culture does not allow it.
      Thatculture needs to change

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  6. My mother was a nurse in an old style psychiatric hospital. The charge nurse had a dislike of one of the female patients who always insisted on a certain china mug at tea time. This charge nurse said "bugger her" and always gave her an ugly plastic mug. As soon as he was out of sight my mother gave her her beloved china mug, which pleased the patient and kept her happy.

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  7. I love that today (here in our community anyway)that there are so many warm and caring people to share their brightness with those have so little. a friend of mine volunteers at our nursing homes and she gives paint and brushes and enters the artworks in local exhibitions. There are days of hat wearing and flower arranging, nail painting and so on. Giving hope and love....

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  8. Little things matter and add up to big things.

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  9. Yes. You are right. I went to a talk by a political philosopher on Saturday. He talked about the necessity of love. The saucers you insisted on were a form of love. They can't be expressed in economic terms or targets, but they are the foundation of all. Keep on giving out saucers and opinions!

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  10. I knew I liked you from the first moment . . .
    Authentic . . .
    Staying true to self . . .
    Saucers Matter . . .

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  11. I think everything begins with the "little things" ... they may not seem important but after those little things come the larger things and they are much harder to live with / to deal with ..
    You are a good man .. standing up for others .. it wasn't about your, it was about them.

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  12. I had a boss once who hired people based on their character and then trained them to do the job. He said he got a better workplace like that than by hiring on skills alone and he was right.
    Good leadership is everything.

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  13. The mantra I was brought up with is everyone is entitled to their point of view but you don't have to agree with it. Sometimes being in the minority is difficult but you have to be true to yourself.

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  14. We have to stand up for the little things, because to some people they are big .... my name is SUE and always will be.

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  15. I have acquired a very low, justifiably low, opinion of American style management. Historically, it grew more structured and authoritarian after WWII. Millions of workers, mostly men, were accustomed to it from the military.
    At a former employer, we were instructed where and when to clap spontaneously when a large customer's buyers were touring the facility. One woman said it was the most humiliating moment of her life. She's never had a prostate checked. HAHHAHAHHAHA
    I am immune to catch phrases, buzz words, group building exercises and being lectured how empowered I am because I "own" my job, when nothing has changed.
    I thought making the decision to retire early next year would make it easier to tolerate, but it hasn't. Maybe because I know it won't matter much longer and that I won't be around to finish a fight, so why start one? I still get my kicks in, but I've decided to make things as easy as possible for everyone around me. That is my secret, parting gift to them.
    Oh, they don't know I plan to retire next year, or more aptly said that this year (2016) is my last full year.
    I fantasize about packing up my pictures and tea bags, standing up, saying good-bye and walking out the door. What are they going to do to me? Say something nasty on my record? Highly unlikely because they'd be afraid of a lawsuit and I'm just the guy to file a complaint and they know it.
    Keep up the good works. I'm proud of what you've done. I volunteer at a Veteran's Hospital on Sundays. I do little things like that, too. Sometimes a warm towel around the neck or in the lap makes all the difference and costs you nothing.

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    1. Its interesting you used the applause example of poor leadership........spontaneous applause , that would be a delightful signal of respect.

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    2. Here in the States it is not unusual for employees who work for minimum wages and no benefits to be led in company cheers at the beginning of the shift. I suppose someone thought it would improve their morale and cost the billionaires who run the company (or worse, live off the stocks and never do anything else) a penny. Well, it doesn't cost the billionaires, that's true.

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    3. Yes, if the applause was spontaneous, it would be a signal of respect. But, in this instance, we were all coached where to stand and when. The customer was very rude and troublesome. That's more and more common in business today. When we saw them approaching, we were signaled to being our spontaneous and completely natural rehearsed applause. It would have been Pythonesque if we quickly moved to the next spot and did it again and the visitors noticed it was the same people applauding over and over. Darn, I blew the opportunity for some mild protest.
      ....The things one does for a buck. (buck = 1 US dollar)

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    4. What an interesting comment. I really don't understand what clapping has to do with anything but it sounds like more of the Asian way of corporate unity.
      Did you work for walmart by chance ? They seem to like low wages and pretend happiness.

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    5. No, I won't step into a Walmart. However Walmart was the biggest customer. The clapping customer was another major retailer with similar corporate bully tactics. They would threaten to take their business away every couple of years to beat the company into price concessions etc. That's why we were coached to clap at them while they were touring the facilities. The sales people loved to tell us we were a team but that only seemed to work in their favor for price concessions, leadtime concessions, absorbing extra costs etc. We would get stuck with any excess inventory they wouldn't take. Hurrah Team!!!!! I don't work at the clappy place anymore, but the customers have followed me. You can't get away from them because they're such big players. As a former retail buyer, it's sad to see their tactics spread to all customers. There are more subtle ways to negotiate for what you want or need besides threats and being so overtly pandered to. Or, in this year of 2016 are there really other ways of doing business? It doesn't appear so. I'm glad I'm on the way out.

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  16. In the U.S., we say "agree to disagree." When I worked at the nursing home, I gave out clean pitchers every night instead of adding water to the pitchers that had been in the patients' rooms for days. Sometimes I step in and do what I want and get away with it through perseverance.

    Love,
    Janie

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  17. I could not agree with you more. I too find that as I get older I know what I'll let go and I know what I won't and the scale has tipped differently for many things. Some are easier to ignore and some are impossible to ignore.

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  18. As I have gotten older and having had a brilliant husband all those years who gave me confidence ... I have a slight attitude about others telling me what to do .. there are times that I do whatever I want and they can just stuff it.
    For a few years , a long time ago, I worked in a Rehab Hospital .. I was given a very good look at what life is like when things have gone wrong and you are not independent anymore. Just being able to do whatever you want , when you want.. is a gift. So I try to appreciate my time here and my health being good as a gift too..a visit to any rehab facility will convince you .

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  19. Yes, drawing a line in the sand can be a very effective tool to stop the futile arguing dead in its tracks. I have used this quite well with family members over the years and it does create a lasting peace and a lot less noise.

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  20. Oh John, you are such a breath of fresh air. I work in a school and do my best. I treat each child as one of my own (sometimes you want to yell at them and equally hug them at the same time!) but so often when in meetings I find myself just sitting there as experience has shown me that from years of speaking up, putting things from the child's point of view never gets listened to. I am going in again tomorrow with renewed vigour!

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    1. I'm in the same boat and know exactly what you mean .

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  21. Oh, sweet justice. Like yourself I worked in a care home. A new patient arrived called Margaret; her middle name was Jane. We had a Margaret so the sister in charge decided that we would call the newer patient Jane so that no one would get confused. Apart from the new patient who had never been called Jane and did not answer to it. This was in the early 80's and thank goodness this sort of autocratic behaviour has disappeared, I hope!!!!!! Love Andie xxx

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  22. You're absolutely right that everyone should be encouraged to contribute -- although I have to admit I am perplexed by your insistence upon saucers. Maybe that's a British thing? I never use a saucer!

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    1. What.. no china teacup and saucer. Tea made in a proper china teapot too.... you really are missing a treat. I wouldn't serve it any other way. It is a bit old fashioned though as very few people bother these days.

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    2. I doubt you drunk your coffee out of a cup ( alone) more likely a mug eh?

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    3. Well, that's true. I'm a mug man. :)

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    4. Not a coffee drinker..... Tea runs through my veins

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  23. To quote the fabulous Gandalf '' I have found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay... Small acts of kindness and love''

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  24. We must all learn to be a little braver and take those small steps that will improve someone's life, and in turn our lives will be improved.

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  25. I never use a saucer, only a mug. But I would certainly get annoyed if someone wouldn't let me use my favourite mug. The problem is people who think rules are more important than keeping people happy.

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    1. I couldnt drink coffee out of anything but my all american mug!

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    2. Hyacinth Bucket calls them beakers right?

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    3. Oldies still call them beakers in Northern Ireland.

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  26. I agree totally John, I work for someone who is passive agressive which can cause staff some massive problems. I have a rep for rocking the boat but can't see wrongdoing and sit silently by.
    I'd rather be an awkward bugger with a clear conscience than a fence sitter especially when it comes to the lives of children x

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  27. Yes.
    Mostly I disagree quietly. Sometimes not.

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  28. Did the staff have saucers whilst the patients didn't? I don't do well if I feel I am being mismanaged and have fell out with a boss many a time for speaking out or saying what everybody else was thinking. They loaded the gun and I fired the bullets!!!

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    1. Most if the staff were as institutionalised as the patients

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  29. You cannot put an andersamp in the title without it saying, '&anddersamp' It fucks your titles.

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    1. I just did it! . ?

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    2. Not on everyone's notifications you didn't. Believe me.

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  30. I've had a rough employment history because I just can't tolerate management BS, game playing, inflexibility and downright stupidity. A friend of mine has a ring tone which baas like a sheep. It went off during a particularly pompous speech-sweet.

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  31. Good for you allowing the saucers.
    My goodness, it is amazing how all these rules come into play. I really wonder at those that think nonsensical ones up. It is almost like creating busy work for amusement. Hell, why not throw the old folks a tea party? Bet they would like a change from the drab old routine and would like to forget about where they are for a bit. Bureaucracies can be such pains in the collective asses.

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  32. Spitting into the wind, but you have to do it. Good on ye, lad.

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  33. Spitting into the wind, but you have to do it. Good on ye, lad.

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  34. http://images.anthropologie.com/is/image/Anthropologie/G38070389_000_b?$an-category$

    These are the mugs I drink my coffee and tea out of .. and they wonder why I have caffeine shakes in the morning :)

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  35. I have to say the older I get I am much more confident in challenging people and situations that I think are unethical. The saying ' shoot the messenger ' is true though.

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    1. I agree..itmay be an age thing , ypu can run your mouth off the older you get x

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  36. You were so wonderfully principled even then! Good for you and your patients.

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  37. I love that you challenged Nurse Ratched to provide some small nicety to those patients. Heaven forbid anyone should remind them that they are human! I am constantly challenging the status quo especially where the vulnerable are concerned. Seemingly, no one can ever forgive someone for out-doing their efforts however meager their efforts have been. Pure ego. I told my son the saying "don't shoot the messenger" and he, wise and strategic lad, said "don't BE the messenger!" But I can't change.

    -invisigal

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  38. I'm glad I don't have to work in a situation where the leadership is bad. I'm a rule-follower and a people-pleaser so I get overwrought if the rules/people are stupid. I don't know how some so-called leaders get into the positions of power that they do ...

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  39. If in my twenties I could have kept my mouth shut! I would have gotten here more quickly. I am no longer out to change the world and keep my mouth shut.

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  40. I'm not so good keeping my mouth shut but I believe that we should all do things differently if we don't agree with them. I like your little stand, I've lost a few jobs making a stand and although it was hard at the time I'm glad I stuck to my guns.

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  41. I volunteered in a similar place in chester in the early 80"s and was so horrified at the tea and communal clothing I became a nurse! Don't know how much difference I made but did my best with best intentions!

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