Bullies in the workplace

  1. Being a non-confrontational person I always wondered why I had such difficulty staying in a position for more than 2 years. My usual reason for leaving is a hostile work environment-backstabbers, malcious gossiping, the nurse (usually a collegue) who relishes looking for errors, any errors and making you look like the most incompetent nurse in the world...etc and for the longest time I thought there was something seriously wrong with me and began to question whether I should leave the profession. I have just recently come across a book about bullies in the workplace (just ordered it today) and am just amazed at how the abstract describes what I have endured for so long. Was just wondering how other nurses have tolerated this/dealt with it. I wished I could say that I was "a perfect nurse" but I am not, I do make mistakes and do my best to learn from them, but what is up with the bully nurse? Are they as prevalent as I am learning about?
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  2. 95 Comments

  3. by   P_RN
    It's called horizontal violence, bullying, workplace mobbing, backbiting... whatever and it's all the same. It;s even the root of "nurses eating our young."http://allnurses.com/forums/search.p...der=descending
  4. by   llg
    I hope you find the book helps you to deal with the bullies you encounter in life. I doubt it will ever become easy, but I have found that I have become a little better at it with age and experience.

    Unfortunately, not every nurse is nice.

    llg
  5. by   st4304
    I think you will find bullies (or is it bullys?) in any profession, not just nursing. In fact, I sometimes wonder if it is just working with women in general. We are nasty and mean in middle/high school to each other and I think it just follows us to adulthood at our workplace. My sister works as a secretary in a car dealership and she is currently looking for another job because the girls in her office are horrible to her and to each other. I have pretty tough skin (been in the business for 25 yrs.) and can tune out and chill out fairly easily, but I do wonder about our gender sometimes.

    I know some of the above comments will probably tick some of you off, and for that I am very sorry -- but I am only stating MY opinion and life experience.

    Your pal,

    Sherri
  6. by   night owl
    Those who can, do. Those who can't, bully.

    Being a non-confrontational person is the perfect target of a bully because you are the least likely person to fight back. I've delt with them at work myself and it's because of these that I have become a more assertive and even aggressive person when I have to be. We've even delt with the cyberbullies here for long time, but thanks to our great mods, co-administrators and the tightening of the terms of service, it's no longer tolerated here. It's interesting to hear some of the backgrounds of these bullies. Some were abused physically, verbally, mentally, sexually or have seen their parents being verbally/physically abused. Being a bully is one way they get control over others. They are basically weak and have the emotional developement of a 5 y/o.
    Here's a good website to help get you through this ordeal.

    www.bullyonline.org

    Good luck to you
  7. by   carcha
    I used to be like u and back away. never worked only went home and repeated all the things i wanted to say to the bully, then went to work next day and backed away again. went through a lot of jobs that way. recently got into another situation and stood my ground and guess what! the bully kept at me, so stood my ground and she came at me again,and believe it or not again. so I demanded the head nurse be bought in and sure enough she was the first one to run to the head nurse with her story. however I sat there calmly and then told the truth. the head nurse listened and made her apologize for the bullying tactics. so u see it isent easy but we can do it.
  8. by   mattsmom81
    I agree Psyko...workplace violence today in nursing is the worst of the worst...the bane of my nursing career. I am close to the retirement age and glad of it...can cut down now, and limit my exposure to it. It exhausts me.

    I also agree the women are by far the worst, although I have seen some men adapt and learn from the best.

    Sometiomes it seems if you don't partake of it you become the next target. <sigh> So many nurses join 'em cuz they figure they can't beat 'em...
  9. by   gwenith
    MEn bully physically women bully emotionally. Same thing.
    HOOOO BOY!!!
    Have I been where you are at
    and I have not only bought the T-shirt but also worn the hat

    I tell people now - don't bother I have been bullied by experts.

    There are various types of bullying from one on one to cohort to mobbing. To survive you MUST lift yourself out of the victim role by:-
    1) re-establishing your own self confidence
    2) stop apologising
    3) stop taking the snipe attacks think up some responses to have ready if you freeze at the time of the attack
    4) establish the first week in a new job how you will be treated.

    Another very good resource for bullying is nurseadvocate.org they have some fantastic stories and literatuer about bullying.

    My final suggestion - join the ranks of the once bullied and become a supporter of your fellows the way that night-owl and the others here have done.

    Hmmm perhaps we should develop our own victim support network here on allnurses for members who have been bullied???
  10. by   Milehighnurse
    My sincerest thanks to all of you for your support. Looks like I have some reading and studying to do about how to deal with these type of people effectively- I don't want to become one of em, I REFUSE to become one of them-but I do have to learn how to cope with them.
  11. by   gwenith
    If I can help at any time feel free to contact me by Pm or on teh board. I am sincere when I suggest we should start a support group here on the BB. There are so many nurses who have been through this ordeal.

    Sometimes when you help others it also helps you.
  12. by   ainz
    I have experienced the same thing in my 18 years of nursing. I am reluctant to comment on the remarks here about gender but I think it is a factor. I am a "male" nurse, as I am often referred to by patients. I have noticed that when working on a floor, pysch unit, dialysis clinic, that the women didn't quite know how to take me so they left me alone and even began to see me as a resource and an informal leader. However, in the critical care areas and ER is was like swimming with sharks. Lots of backstabbing, petty competition for recognition etc., and the all-to-often/common watchdog for those who make errors, and they seemed to revel in it when they find one. I have been called at 2AM to see if I gave a multivitamin on the day shift!! Now that I am in administration I deal with the DON or Chief Nursing Officer, usually female, and when they find out I am a nurse it seems that they have an issue with that, they are suspicious of me at first but after they see that I am very supportive of nursing and an advocate for patients they relax and again see me as a resource. In dealing with the critical care nurses, I think displaying confidence in your skills, knowledge, expertise, supporting your co-workers even when they are not supportive in return, and being able to answer any comment or accusation with accurate and up-to-date clinically sound statements will win you their respect and they will tend to back off. I don't know about support groups for victims of bullying and all of that. I have never seen myself as a victim or "less than" while at work. I think that if you accept yourself, you are at peace with yourself, you are confident with your place in life, and you are positive, it shows to those around you. People are attracted to people that make them feel good about themselves. If you are one of those people, you will have supportive colleagues.
  13. by   gwenith
    Ainz - with respect many men do not get the same response from thier female colleagues that women do. This is not an opinion it is a researched fact. When I stated that men bully physically and women imotionally I was (broadly) quoting research I read some years ago when I first started on my own healing trail.

    Unfortunately just having confidence and respect in yourself is often not enough and it is difficult to do so when those around you are making you feel like an ignorant incompetant moron. I have lost track of the number of posts I have replied to over the last few months where the originator is the vicitm of bullying and this is why I suggested we form a support group. We will not get rid of the horizontal violence and bullying in the workplace until we have more people aware and able to identify it for what it is and act on it.
  14. by   Tweety
    Yes they are out there. As a charge nurse I try to stop them in their tracks when I see them picking on coworkers. Good luck.

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