Dealing with a bully at work...help

  1. hi
    i am a fairly new grad and i am having trouble with a nurse who thinks its's funny to tease me about how i nurse. He only works 8 hr night shift and all he does is talk about everybody else behind there backs and makes fun of almost everybody.
    he will constantly make comments like..

    "So when are you going to stop asking questions?"
    or
    " Are you going to be like so-and-so and do such and such"

    other nurses who hear him make these commenrs say.."oh he's just teasing you know"
    I am also teased for bieng a caring nurse
    As a new grad i am trying to build confidence and he is not helping.
    I never laugh at his jokes hoping this would give him a clue to how i feel ...but it's not stopping
    I cried after the last shift after he asked if was ever going to do the narcotic count (while i was up to my arms in c.diff poop). Since he only works an 8 hr night shift he doesn't even know what goes on during a day shift.
    I know i need to confront him. I am just having trouble thinking of what I should say. I am also afaid it will get worse if i confront him
    I really like where i work (neurosciences) and i don't want to quit
    please help
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  2. 18 Comments

  3. by   cursenurse
    i think you need to speak with this guy privately about how his comments make you feel. be firm with him, tell him he has to stop, that his comments are undermining your confidence. if he does not stop i would take the matter to your superior, because this is harrassment. you do not have to live with that kind of treatment.
  4. by   gwenith
    Cursenurse is right but first make a list - document what he has said in the past because a confrontation like this can escalate the problem or lead to him making fun of you trying to stand up for yourself. He has you where he wants you - and he is going to manipulate you into staying there.

    Once you have said to him how he makes you feel (and remember this is about the most important person - you. You have the right to say no). Take his answer and go to your nurse manager - let him/her know what is going on. Pounds to peanuts this is not the first time he has done this.
  5. by   Daytonite
    Hi, sdauph!
    Read your post with great interest. Don't do any confronting unless you have a good idea of what you are going to say and have practiced it in your mind. That said, the best thing I think you can do is to just ignore him. Don't be part of his audience when he starts trashing other nurses--walk away if you can. If you can't don't respond to what he says because it only eggs him on more. That is what he is counting on. When people sit there like little kings pronouncing these judgments on others they are holding court. It's amusing to them, but more importantly, it's a way to get attention. The easiest thing to do is a basic psychology technique called negative reinforcement. Another thing you could do is try to change the subject. Just don't acknowledge his put downs of others. I understand that as a new grad you may have to depend on his assistance, so you don't want to offend him. Ignoring him is more passive. He can take it as seeing you as not being a talkative person. When you gain more confidence, the thing to say to a person like this is "I don't want to hear this kind of talk", and move away. What I have learned over the years is to tell people who behave like this to stop talking to me about Susie and tell her himself instead of everyone else. When I was PMSing I would have said something like, "bet you're too chicken to tell Susie to her face. Coward." But, I don't recommend you say anything like that. It's really not nice either. So, hang in there and try to stay physically away from this dude when he starts shooting off his mouth and just ignore his ignorant comments if you can't. What a jerk.
  6. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Quote from sdauph
    all he does is talk about everybody else behind there backs and makes fun of almost everybody.
    Which is typically a sign of someone trying to boost their sagging self-confidence by trying to turn the 'spotlight' on others.

    If he asks me questions, i would look him straight in the eye and say "Why do you ask?" If he continues to act like this, just saying "I don't have time to talk right now, i have other pressing matters, if you'll excuse me." If he does it again "I don't have the time right now, there are other pressing matters that need my full attention" and continue with whatever you're doing. If he bugs you again, go to the charge nurse, or the supervisor. It would be amazing to them that he's got all of this time to be like this.
  7. by   spidermonkey
    Have you heard the term "nurses eat their young"? This is a good example. Don't be afraid to stand up to him,(in a non-confrontational way) or even tell him his comments bother you. I vividly remember my first year out of college & how easily intimidated I was. I cried sometimes after work, but eventually I toughened up-- sounds harsh, but you will find a way to deal w/these types-(& it's not just limited to nurses). If it hadn't been for the kind, helpful nurses that worked there too, I'd have left nursing altogether. I eventually left that job- and the next place was much nicer -- I'd say his type is the exception rather than the rule. Also, it IS a good idea to document things, even if you never use them, you have an accurate record & won't have to rely on memory if anything ever comes up. Good luck to you- hang in there.
  8. by   mydesygn
    Whoa, that's tough. I can't say I have been in that position before but one of the reasons I left a position was because of several nurses acting in a similiar manner - not an enviroment I wanted to be part of.

    My thoughts are:
    1) The very next time you can catch him alone and unoccupied, try telling him in a calm tone that " I realize that you kinda like to have fun and tease us a little but I really need you to lay off the joking about me. I just don't enjoy that type of humor or behaivior. It's really not my style and I don't want to be involved in it." Be sure to cite specefic words that he has said to you. He'll probably say he didn't mean to hurt your feelings or you ought get a sense of humor or you shouldn't be so sensitive. Just repeat again if you need to "Those things might be true but I am still very serious about you not including me. I just want to make sure you understand me. I don't want to be joked about in that way" Hopefully, he'll get the message but the important thing is to be clear ,direct and calm (maybe even a little casual in tone) not angry or confrontational.

    If that doesn't work.
    2) Talk to your manager. Ask her if she would be willing to set up a time where all three of you can discuss the issue. Do not allow her to speak to him on your behalf, you just want her to help mediate but her presence will send the message that you are serious about the behaivior. Too often, nurses want the manager to solve uncomfortable problems for them rather than confront the indiviual. Usually the person receiveing the office "berating" from the manager ends up resenting the "talking to the manager about him behind their back" treatment. You have to be willing to give the same courtesy and treatment to him that you would expect for yourself.


    Now if that doesn't work, you have got some real problems.
    3) You'll need to start documenting the behaivior and noting indivuals who were witnesses and present this info to the manager (since she is now aware that it has continued). I would expect that based on your documentation and witness statements, she might consider disciplinary action (or at least the threat of) at this time.


    Hope that helps.
  9. by   Cute_CNA
    Quote from cursenurse
    i think you need to speak with this guy privately about how his comments make you feel. be firm with him, tell him he has to stop, that his comments are undermining your confidence. if he does not stop i would take the matter to your superior, because this is harrassment. you do not have to live with that kind of treatment.
    I second this.

    He sounds like a very insecure man to me.
    Last edit by Cute_CNA on Nov 1, '05
  10. by   Cute_CNA
    Quote from Daytonite
    The easiest thing to do is a basic psychology technique called negative reinforcement.
    http://www.wagntrain.com/OC/Part2.htm

    Perhaps you meant "extinction"?

    It can be hard to distinguish the two.
  11. by   Thunderwolf
  12. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I also have a list of some AMAZING books I have read on assertiveness and fighting bullies on their turf, fairly and with a cool head, if you want it. Let me know.
  13. by   Tweety
    Quote from cursenurse
    i think you need to speak with this guy privately about how his comments make you feel. be firm with him, tell him he has to stop, that his comments are undermining your confidence. if he does not stop i would take the matter to your superior, because this is harrassment. you do not have to live with that kind of treatment.
    I agree with this.
    I'm a firm believer in face-to-face confrontation first. Let him know how is words are affecting you and ask him to stop immediately.

    If it happens again, time to use the chain of command.

    Good luck.
  14. by   gr8rnpjt
    Quote from Marie_LPN
    Which is typically a sign of someone trying to boost their sagging self-confidence by trying to turn the 'spotlight' on others.

    . It would be amazing to them that he's got all of this time to be like this.

    Good point, Marie. It sounds like this guy needs a bigger assignment to keep him occupied.

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