News & Events

It’s a mad, mad, Mad Libs world

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
December 2011 Edition

By Deb Rigiero
Associate Director, Organizing

I am probably aging myself, but I am betting that maybe 50 percent of you know what I am talking about when I say Mad Libs. Those paper pads that would have a paragraph or short story with “fill-in the blanks” placed strategically in the paragraph so it would usually make a funny story.

Lately, we seem to be living in a mad world where we are being asked to follow a script when doing our work. Do any of you ever feel like a puppet on a ventriloquist’s lap? Have any of you heard about the 10/5 foot rule in your workplace? If you are walking and you see someone 10 feet away you should smile. When you get about five feet away you should greet them.

What are some of the “scripts” in your workplace? Are we all interchangeable now? I bet some of you even put a smiley face along with your initials on your dressings like a server puts on the check. The last hotel I stayed at the desk clerk would say “hello Debra” every time I passed the desk. I was thinking, ‘Isn’t she nice to remember my name?’ But now I’m thinking, ‘It was all just part of a script.’ How do you know? Try the Mad Libs at right and see if you agree with me.

I say it is time for us to challenge the phoniness of it all and to be real. It is OK to be happy, sad, frustrated, surprised and angry. It is OK to have your face show emotion. When you smile, your eyes should smile. When you frown, your forehead should wrinkle and if you are harried it’s OK if it shows on your face. It’s also OK to forget someone’s name, or to be frustrated and to show it.

I still don’t understand why employers think a scripted response is better than a real response. In fact, if it is better, why don’t they script the way they speak to their employees?

If I am a patient, I want to know that the nurse isn’t trying to hide the fact that her assignment is unmanageable. When I am in a restaurant, I really want to know what they recommend (is the fish fresh?). When I am in a plane, I want to know that pilot has not been drinking or is sleepy. When I ask the doctor what she thinks, I really want to know. When I ask someone how he or she is doing, I really mean it.

I am not suggesting that we be rude, disrespectful or abusive. All I am suggesting is that we be real.