Lesson 3: Topic 3 of 19

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What exactly is entitlement? 

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines entitlement as “belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges.” Psychology Today says it “is an enduring personality trait, characterized by the belief that one deserves preferences and resources that others do not.”

It is literally infantile. Babies are helpless and can do nothing but demand that their needs be met. While most outgrow it, some don’t feel they need to because their upbringing was rough, and they insist the world pay them back for what was lost. Conversely, there are those who never overcome a sense of entitlement because they grew up at the opposite end of the spectrum; if your every need was always met and every obstacle was always removed during your childhood and youth, you too might conclude the world owes you a smooth path. Psychologist and author Dr. John Townsend sums up the issue best: “Entitlement is the belief that I am exempt from responsibility and I am owed special treatment.

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An embodiment of this is ‘Fred,’ a senior administrative RN at a nursing home we once worked with, who was indignant that no one at his facility liked him. He stayed in his office as much as possible, delegated to staff more of his workload than was appropriate, and showed little sympathy for the concerns of others. Fred was openly disdainful of LVNs, even the ones who had more years of experience, greater knowledge of facility operations, and knew the residents’ histories and preferences better than he did. Yet he expected respect by virtue of his position. Nurses began to refuse to work on the same shift with him. Nothing was ever his fault; everyone else was to blame. To the end, Fred was oblivious to the fact that he was the cause of the interpersonal conflict swirling around him. No one was surprised when after his departure it was found that routine paperwork required of a nurse in his position was largely missing. Fred either had deleted documentation when he was fired, presumably out of spite, or out of laziness he’d never done it at all. His failures revealed more than a poor work ethic. This man had a major character flaw.