So I’m wandering around a department store with my daughter while her mum tries on linen when I find - and I blame bad signposting near hosiery for this - that we have wandered into what I can only imagine to be the menopausal chiffon section.
We made a bolt for freedom but the static nearly dragged us back and we were forced to take shelter in the waiting area with the other viscose survivors. As we entered, a large man with a tiny baby was being told that he had to move his trolley.
‘Why?’ the man said.
‘Health and safety,’ the lady said.
‘What health and safety?’ asked the sweating man, and the baby started crying.
And that was the point when the woman should have said something like: ‘It’s OK, we are told to keep these areas clear but you have more important things to worry about,’ and maybe smiled or perhaps gone with: ‘Trolley schmolley - I’m sorry, have a seat.’
Instead, she went with: ‘It’s health and safety, sir. If you don’t move your trolley, I will have to move it for you.’ There was no smiling.
From there, things escalated quickly. The man became upset. He said: ‘This is discrimination.’ We all watched, trying to guess the form of discrimination he was referring to. Perhaps he thought she was going to stop him from breastfeeding?
The woman muttered the security word.
The man mentioned customer services and complaints. His wife emerged, anxious for his views on what may have been cut-off trousers or ill-fitting shorts. He told her he didn’t care. The baby cried louder. It may have been the shorts. My daughter and I decided the chiffon jungle was a better place to be.
And this was all because of a wrong communication decision.
‘We all watched, trying to guess the form of discrimination he referred to. Perhaps he thought the staff would stop him from breastfeeding?’
You know and I know that nurses make choices about how to communicate dozens of times a day. Sometimes they do it consciously, sometimes as second nature.
Sometimes they do it badly but, even if they do, the good ones can look at how they could do it better afterwards. Couldn’t they?
Understanding how to communicate effectively and skilfully is an interesting kind of ‘knowing’. It’s interesting because of how we know how to communicate and then integrate this into the way we live and work.
And it’s interesting because it is constructed as a body of knowledge in a different way from, say, learning about history or maths or anatomy or drug reactions.
Nursing will be moving to an all-graduate entry profession over the next few years and that may or may not be a good thing.
The requirements of good nursing - the capacity to choose how to communicate, to manage with skill the emotions of others, to reflect and articulate the nuances of human interaction in a constructive and helpful way - must be at the heart of all nursing degrees.
The special requirements of nursing need to be in the design of what a degree is, every bit as much as the standards implicit in a degree will design the future nurse