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PT and the Greater Good

All That Negativity

Published July 9, 2013 5:13 PM by Dean Metz

I've seen some interesting responses to some of my fellow ADVANCE bloggers' posts as of late. I've seen people suggest that they look for other careers, they negatively impact the profession, and they should essentially stop expressing their dissatisfaction the way that they do. I wonder if the people sending those responses have really sat down and contemplated why some of the bloggers have expressed things the way they have; a root-cause analysis perhaps?

I must confess, I once responded very inappropriately to a fellow blogger and had to send a letter of apology to that person (which was deserved) so I'm no saint on this topic, but I hope to have learned from my mistakes. Also, I've been feeling more negative myself as of late.

After hearing the comments and vision of the current APTA leadership, I'm somewhat encouraged by the direction they want to take the profession. However, working in a corporate environment, I'm seeing the harsh reality of what it's like to try to think and work outside the box of short-term financial gains. I say my fellow bloggers have every right to be angry! I'm angry. I can recall a time when I had time to spend with my patients in rehab and home care. I can recall a time when I didn't have to defend the most basic of treatments over and over again to managed care companies staffed by bean counters. I can recall a time when experience and expertise led to promotion, not an inability to get a job.

I say it's our responsibility to speak out when we feel something is unjust or the profession isn't being upheld to the best standard. Only by being outspoken might change occur. So for my colleagues who have been "negative" as of late, I salute you and join you.

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I've missed the camaraderie here at the blogs, so stopped in for a visit. Your post prompted me to stroll through more than I'd planned.

I went back to the beginning of May on everyone's blogs. [I only clicked on the ones that had comments, so don't be too impressed :-)] I must be missing something.

I only saw one post that garnered comments aimed at the blogger's negativity. Honestly, in my opinion, that one post lacked discretion. All of the value of the post could have been communicated without referencing the current team member. Reference to the team member, and the manner in which that was done, actually detracted from the post's value.

In all of that same blogger's other posts that were also voicing frustration, I only noticed encouraging comments - applauding the blogger's stance in difficult situations.

In the past, I remember seeing comments of the type you reference, but "as of late" (within the last 3 months) I see only the one. Given the positive comments I saw in response to other similar posts by the same blogger, I have to say I think the commenters correctly identified that post for what it was.

I'd be remiss not to point out that the negative commenters also failed to operate with tact. One of them made a valid point, albeit with a dig. The other two were just plain nasty - offering nothing of value, which brings me back to my initial point.

Ironically, two of the commenters are guilty of the same offense as the blogger: spewing unecessary venom that has no healing essence.

I'm trying to think of a time when "nasty" is warranted or necessary. Off the top of my head, I can think of none. Still, I'll qualify my statement: Almost always you can get your point across without being ugly.

People may be offended because of your opinion, but they should not be offended because of how your opinion is presented. You can and should present a dissenting belief respectfully - particularly when you are engaging as a professional. From my perspective, the blogger failed in this regard, and the commenters responded to that failure. Unfortunately, they didn't articulate that well - or in a manner that could bring about constructive conversation or change.

The post in question could have been insightful and instructive, helping forge better communication in the workplace through more effective techniques. Because of how the information was shared, the main point was relegated to a sideshow.

As bloggers we have a responsibility to decide what "one thing" we want to get across in our post before we begin to write. Then, we must be diligent to include only that information which will focus our readers on that "one thing."

You've read enough of my posts (the good, bad, and ugly) to know that the only reason I can write this is because I've learned from experience. Distance and perspective bring clarity. I've lamented over posts that fell short, over "one things" that got lost because I chose the wrong vehicle to get my point across, over teachable moments sacrificed to venting because I didn't wait long enough to post about a situation.

Sometimes writing in the moment when a topic is fresh works well. More often, it doesn't.

Thanks for the opportunity to weigh in

Janey Goude, Lexington July 14, 2013 1:57 AM
Lexington SC

It is easy to mistake frustration as negativity.  Ours is a wonderful profession.  Over the last several years that wonderfulness has been overshadowed by reimbursement cuts and decisions by our leadership that seem to have had unwanted unintended consequences.  Until very recently the focus has been anywhere but the average therapist who goes to work, sees patients and goes home.  That person is worried about salary, benefits and job security.  

Toni July 11, 2013 6:16 AM

Thank you for this post Dean.  

Pointing out flaws (or having an idea that others do not like) in a professional system can be tricky.  There will always be people that do not want to hear the other side of an issue.  

Jason Marketti July 9, 2013 10:23 PM

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About this Blog

    Dean Metz
    Occupation: Staff Development Specialist
    Setting: New York, NY – Newcastle Upon Tyne, Great Britain
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