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Saturday, January 18, 2020  

The Essence of EtiquettePublished 10/14/2005

After perusing the periodicals at my local convenience store, my eyes settled on the word, "Etiquette" and a recent issue of "O" magazine.

I am by no means an etiquette expert, rather an aficionado.I devour etiquette information, but much of it focuses on guidelines and courtesies. This article in particular, focused on meal etiquette.

As many do, this article discussed the etiquette involved in eating a meal at an upscale restaurant, but the information touched on something above and beyond the meal (thank you Oprah!).

As we all know, true members of high society possess something deeper than an understanding of formalities. This article touched upon the essence that separates the etiquette elite from those of us who know, and occasionally practice, a few rules. It exposed the energy and awareness of true etiquette.

When seated, the host ordered a particular kind of bottled water. He was aware that the CEO of that water company was seated at another table. He was also keenly aware of the young woman dressed entirely inappropriately for lunch, much to the embarrassment of her older, male lunch companion.

Awareness such as this can serve its purpose even outside the high society scene. How often have you taken notice of the eyes, ears, and feelings around you on your unit? How about while enjoying a lunch or dinner out with your colleagues in establishments surrounding the medical campus?

I was discussing this article with a friend of mine when she told me a story about someone close to her. While dining at a restaurant near the hospital, a group of healthcare employees were discussing a patient. Unbeknownst to them, a few family members and friends of that particular patient were dining at that very establishment.

Although the healthcare workers were not saying anything malicious, one of the patient’s family members approached the healthcare workers about the issue. I do not know the details of the events that took place on that particular occasion, but at the time of the incident, the family may have been dealing with shock or grief regarding a change in health for the patient. It is possible that they may not have been updated on their loved ones condition because they had not yet returned from their much-needed break away from the situation.

The point is that this was no time or place for them to hear about their family member’s condition or treatment, not to mention that there was a breech of confidentiality. Even hearing someone talk casually about a precise evaluation or critical decision made in regards to this patient’s care may be too much, especially while having dinner away from their loved one’s side.

Just as it is important to be aware of the eyes and the ears in the halls and waiting rooms while at work, it is important to be aware of those around you outside of the hospital or care center.

Remember that your patients have a right to privacy regarding every aspect of their treatment. The awareness, tact, and courtesy applied in high society really can be put into practice in everyday life.

So, cut your meal one bite at a time, spoon your soup away from you, and remain aware of those around you during your breaks away from work.

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