I think that alot of folks display inappropriate behavior because they are
scared, uncomfortale in an unfamiliar situation or just stupid (I often
fall into the last category, but sometimes in the other categories).
A great deal of what we call humor is really inappropriate comments.
The comments or actions can be racist, sexist, or prejudiced or hostile in
other ways. Sometimes, even when trying to be "helpful", comments and
actions can be prejudicial or otherwise inappropriate.
There are a number of occasions that I can recall that I wished that I
could retract a statement or action. Thankfully, my memory is not so
good, so the number of occasions that I can recall is not overwhelming.
It has been my experience that most people who engage in inappropriate
comments and/or actions really do not know that their comments/actions are
inappropriate, or don't anticipate that they are inappropriate.
Although I don't have the courage or presence of mind to do this, I think
that the kindest thing to do is to tell the patient that their behavior is
This may result in additional discomfort in the relationship between
patient and caregiver, but I think that as the person engaging in
inappropriate behavior has a chance to think about it, they will learn,
slowly, sometimes very slowly, to behave better.
We use one additional method of controlling behaviour that has not been
suggested: We invite companions (wife, husband or friend) to be present
during the examination whenever possible.
Professionals and others in power positions sometimes also engage in
inapropriate behavior, and it is rare that the
employee/patient/client/student/parishioner/child has the
opportunity to help set that right.
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