Dealing with a difficult co-worker

  1. Hi, all, I feel kind of uncomfortable posting this because I hate talking about people behind their backs, but I think I need help. I work with this other CNA on night shift at a nursing home/retirement home every once in awhile, and every time I finish working with her (where I work, the night shift nursing staff is two CNAs and that's it) on the floor I come home upset. Friday night has to have been my worst night with her. If I made a mistake, or didn't do something the way she thought it should be done, she would yell at me -- literally -- whether we were alone or with the patients . Naturally, I kept getting more upset, and therefore more flustered -- and thus I kept on making more mistakes because I couldn't think clearly. The worst was when we were putting one lady to bed and she yelled at me right there in the room. I finished what I had to do, and left the room, furious and nearly in tears. :angryfire She apologised about an hour before the shift was over, when we were alone. I appreciated the apology, but I don't think that she will keep herself from yelling the next time. I'm 18 and have only worked in the health care field about five months, and only then on Fridays and weekends. I know that I don't have as much experience as she does, but I don't think I deserve being yelled at in this way -- other people work with me, and they seem able to work with me without making me feel stupid. I have been raised to respect my elders, and this lady is old enough to be my mom. How can I address this issue respectfully when she does it again? I don't want to embarress her like she has me.
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   Mommy2Katiebaby
    You may only be 18, but you're all grown up as far as your job goes. Next time you can just say "Please speak to me calmly and professionally and I'll listen. " Then ignore any yelling - just don't respond to it.
  4. by   Jolie
    Quote from Alicia18
    Hi, all, I feel kind of uncomfortable posting this because I hate talking about people behind their backs, but I think I need help. I work with this other CNA on night shift at a nursing home/retirement home every once in awhile, and every time I finish working with her (where I work, the night shift nursing staff is two CNAs and that's it) on the floor I come home upset. Friday night has to have been my worst night with her. If I made a mistake, or didn't do something the way she thought it should be done, she would yell at me -- literally -- whether we were alone or with the patients . Naturally, I kept getting more upset, and therefore more flustered -- and thus I kept on making more mistakes because I couldn't think clearly. The worst was when we were putting one lady to bed and she yelled at me right there in the room. I finished what I had to do, and left the room, furious and nearly in tears. :angryfire She apologised about an hour before the shift was over, when we were alone. I appreciated the apology, but I don't think that she will keep herself from yelling the next time. I'm 18 and have only worked in the health care field about five months, and only then on Fridays and weekends. I know that I don't have as much experience as she does, but I don't think I deserve being yelled at in this way -- other people work with me, and they seem able to work with me without making me feel stupid. I have been raised to respect my elders, and this lady is old enough to be my mom. How can I address this issue respectfully when she does it again? I don't want to embarress her like she has me.
    It doesn't matter that this lady is old enough to be your mom. Respect is earned, not guaranteed because of one's age. To earn respect, one must show it.

    Make an appointment with the co-worker off the clock. Perhaps over lunch, where you are equals, not an experienced CNA and a newbie. In a calm, adult manner, let her know that you will not continue to accept her treatment of you. Don't get emotional, just state the objective facts.

    For example, "On Friday, you yelled at me in front of Mrs. Smith, causing me to become flustered, and the resident to get upset. I realize that I forgot to bring a gown into her room, but that was not an emergency, nor did it cause any safety hazard, and it would have been easily corrected had you not caused everyone to become upset by yelling."

    "I realize that I'm still learning, and I appreciate your positive, constructive input, but will no longer tolerate your abusive behavior. If you have a problem to discuss with me, I expect you to do it in private. If you have a good word to say to me, then by all means, do it publicly! And I'll do the same for you."

    "I hope we can work together professionally from now on."

    I suspect that this will help. I've encountered co-workers much like the one you describe, and they are basically on a power trip, testing you to see how much c**p you will put up with. Then they dish up just as much as they think they can get away with. By setting limits up front, you spoil their game.

    If this is not effective, then you may be forced to go to your supervisor, but I don't recommend that as a first option, for a couple of reasons. First of all, bullies see weakness in co-workers who go to the supervisor with every problem, and her behavior toward you is likely to worsen if she is spoken to by the supervisor. Secondly, you state that you work only limited hours, so even though the co-worker is out of line, she is likely to curry the favor of the supervisor because she is a warm body working more hours than you.

    Good luck standing up for yourself!
  5. by   Alicia18
    Thanks for your positive input. I don't look forward to talking to her about it, but I know that in the long run, it'll probably improve the way I work around her.
    I agree, talking to the supervisor will only make me look like a whiner who can't handle working with a little bit of difficulty. I appreciate your help, Jolie and KPrice.
    Alicia18
  6. by   mitsraelle
    Quote from Alicia18
    Thanks for your positive input. I don't look forward to talking to her about it, but I know that in the long run, it'll probably improve the way I work around her.
    I agree, talking to the supervisor will only make me look like a whiner who can't handle working with a little bit of difficulty. I appreciate your help, Jolie and KPrice.
    Alicia18
    Jolie an KPrice are right. I wish you a lot of courage. This person hasn't yet evolved completely through her work. She hasn't still realized that she has a superiority complex, this goes in pair with inferiority complex. Everyone who's comparing oneself with others and establishes an order,value and selfesteem through others, risks to fall into this trap. You must avoid placing you in superiority and inferiority in mind and action, avoid the feeling of guilt for everyone. Think of her in terms of love (e.g. send her a great package of love), that does not say that you should approve her actions. Just accept them (I know it's very hard !!) as unawareness. Everyone is equal, the patient and you are equal (constitutional human right!). There's a time in life for learning, working and teaching (the latter is in Europe a competence reminded in job contracts) for everyone. Everyone has his place. And she has learned the job too. And after all, a nurse must learn a life long.....

    This situation should help you to remember never doing the same thing as this lady. This is your occasion to get a responsible citizen and to understand what equality means. You must not fight, just defend you by avoiding giving this lady the opportunity to continue....You have the choice. You have had basic teachement, so listen to you.. you know already what to do.
    Nurses are not servants but offer services. Observe and listen. And you'll get to know a lot of things in your job..... and perhaps why this lady acts in this manner. Perhaps one has treated her the same way ( is not an excuse!!) and she can't give another answer? Perhaps she's jealous... or likes to value her in this way? Perhaps shes sees in you a competitor and fears of loosing her job??...There are lot of things possible.....
  7. by   tommycher
    Never allow another person's anger over their own lack of achievement affect your mood, ego, or care for others. Some people live in a perpetual state of anger, and will always be willing to unleash it on you, especially if they see a potential in you that they feel they do not have in themselves. Please remember that you do not need to give anyone the power to hurt you, it is not about you, it is about them. Smile, explain to them that you are sure their Mama doesn't know how they treat people, and carry on. Document to superiors your encounter, with no negatives, only facts. Good luck, treat people as you want to be treated, and keep smiling.
  8. by   Alicia18
    Thanks for your advice, everybody!
  9. by   The Veridican
    The next time she yells at you, you tell her with confidence and indignation (but not anger) the following:

    "You can not speak to me like that. I will not stand for it. If you speak to me like that again, I will write up a letter about it and give it to the manager."

    And then finish your task. Do not discuss it with her, do not argue it with her. Just finish your task and leave her alone. Do not respond to anything she says in retaliation to your statement. Write her up if she yells at you again. And I suggest you stop trying to be her friend. Don't chat with her; just speak with her about job-related things as the need arises.

    You are 18 and easily intimidated by those who are older--but now is the time to start standing up for yourself--not with anger, not with tears, but with confidence. Some people are mentally ill, obviously your coworker is. If you wouldn't take the rantings of a demented patient to heart, why take your coworkers?

    Good luck.

    The Veridican
  10. by   BETSRN
    Quote from Alicia18
    Hi, all, I feel kind of uncomfortable posting this because I hate talking about people behind their backs, but I think I need help. I work with this other CNA on night shift at a nursing home/retirement home every once in awhile, and every time I finish working with her (where I work, the night shift nursing staff is two CNAs and that's it) on the floor I come home upset. Friday night has to have been my worst night with her. If I made a mistake, or didn't do something the way she thought it should be done, she would yell at me -- literally -- whether we were alone or with the patients . Naturally, I kept getting more upset, and therefore more flustered -- and thus I kept on making more mistakes because I couldn't think clearly. The worst was when we were putting one lady to bed and she yelled at me right there in the room. I finished what I had to do, and left the room, furious and nearly in tears. :angryfire She apologised about an hour before the shift was over, when we were alone. I appreciated the apology, but I don't think that she will keep herself from yelling the next time. I'm 18 and have only worked in the health care field about five months, and only then on Fridays and weekends. I know that I don't have as much experience as she does, but I don't think I deserve being yelled at in this way -- other people work with me, and they seem able to work with me without making me feel stupid. I have been raised to respect my elders, and this lady is old enough to be my mom. How can I address this issue respectfully when she does it again? I don't want to embarress her like she has me.
    No one deserves to be spoken to in that manner, no matter what the age! I agree with the OP's. The next time she speaks to you in that tone of voice, you will be ready to confront her. Merely ask her to please stop yelling or speaking to you in an unprofessional or unkind tone. If you can walk away from the situation, by all means do so. I know you would not put a resident in jeopardy by walking away at an unsafe time. However, if she speaks to you in front of a resident, please interrupt her (in mid sentence) and tell her that you will be glad to continue that conversation at another time and ignore her if she continues.

    If this behavior does NOT change after you have spoken provately with her, then I would go above her to your supervisor.

    This woman obviously has a chip in her shoulder or she wouldn't feel the need to come down on you. Consider that this is HER problem and not yours.

    Please let us know what happens.
  11. by   BETSRN
    Quote from The Veridican
    The next time she yells at you, you tell her with confidence and indignation (but not anger) the following:

    "You can not speak to me like that. I will not stand for it. If you speak to me like that again, I will write up a letter about it and give it to the manager."

    And then finish your task. Do not discuss it with her, do not argue it with her. Just finish your task and leave her alone. Do not respond to anything she says in retaliation to your statement. Write her up if she yells at you again. And I suggest you stop trying to be her friend. Don't chat with her; just speak with her about job-related things as the need arises.

    You are 18 and easily intimidated by those who are older--but now is the time to start standing up for yourself--not with anger, not with tears, but with confidence. Some people are mentally ill, obviously your coworker is. If you wouldn't take the rantings of a demented patient to heart, why take your coworkers?

    Good luck.

    The Veridican
    I'm not too sure that "mentally ill" would be the correct term. You have no idea about this person's mental status. She is rude, yes, beyond the shadow of a doubt, but mentally ill, none of us knows that.
  12. by   MandyInMS
    Agree with the others...you may be young and not as experienced , but you deserve respect as well..nobody deserves to be treated that way..stand up for yourself in a professional way and don't sink to her level..you sound a LOT more mature than your elder coworker...best of luck hun
  13. by   Alicia18
    Originally Posted by BETSRN
    I'm not too sure that "mentally ill" would be the correct term. You have no idea about this person's mental status. She is rude, yes, beyond the shadow of a doubt, but mentally ill, none of us knows that.
    I don't want to offend The Veridican, but I think that BETSRN is right here.
    Thanks, everyone, for your interest and wonderful advice. Oh, and wish me luck, please -- It looks like I might be able to take MedTech classes this weekend if someone can replace me on my shift. Crossing my fingers and hoping! :chuckle
  14. by   JBudd
    It's very easy to tell you not to accept that kind of behavior, but having been in your shoes in one way or another, I know it's not so easy when the situation happens again. Afterwards you think to yourself, "I should have said this" or done that. The shock of someone's blast of anger in your face can be very disconcerting, and blow away all your brave intentions of standing up for yourself. If you don't succeed in standing up against it the next time, don't put yourself down, it may take a few tries. What has helped me in the past is role playing the situation in my head enough times that if feels like I've ALREADY faced her down, so that when it happens again in real life, I'm ready. Good luck.

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