Socially needy coworkers

  1. We have a newer coworker at one of my jobs. She seems to be universally annoying everyone there. She seems to want to intrude in every conversation with over sharing about her own life. She will show photo after photo of her cat in different poses and other really boring things. She has some shopping fetishes that she goes into great detail about.


    She is a physically very large woman both in height and girth. She has a poor sense of personal space and gets into peoples bubbles. Not only that, she butts into patient care with grandstanding and trying to direct the person to do things her way right in front of the patient. She is extremely bossy and obtuse regarding how she's coming across. And any little fault she comes across she writes up. She's also poked into other people's charts for no reason.

    I get the feeling that she is socially starved. How do you all deal with somebody like this? I think people are being nice enough to her face, but there is a lot of backbiting going on about how she is driving them crazy.
    Last edit by Brian S. on Sep 13
    •  
  2. 52 Comments

  3. by   caliotter3
    You know, kill her with kindness. Pour on the praise and attention. Sooner or later she should get enough attention to convince her she has been accepted as part of the group, even if the opposite is true.
  4. by   NuGuyNurse2b
    There's one in every group.
  5. by   Been there,done that
    You will not be able to change her behavior.

    "She's also poked into other people's charts for no reason." Inform management of this and she will no longer be around to be annoying.
  6. by   KatieMI
    Pics of kittens and boasting about kids/husbands/shopping/etc.- I do not think that anyone can really do anything with that. Hope that she will find someone wanting to share the stories with her because, according to my knowledge, there is always one just such person around. But pocking into patients' charts and bossing people around in the rooms she's not assigned to and has no business to be into is another story. That stuff has to be addressed with her first and with management second, ASAP.

    IMHO, such people cannot be "killed with kindness" because that's what they crave most and things only get worse. They have to be shown borders, sharp and early, and let know that showing pics of kittens and chatting about life can be acceptable if unit is calm (well, I think most of us do something like that from time to time) but they must not, ever, poke into a patient's chart unless 1) assigned to this patient's care, or 2) have some other, known and legitimate, cause like covering for another nurse or doing chart review. All other "just curious" pocking will be treated like HIPAA breach with all sequela, no exclusions.

    The key to success is that every other nurse in the unit must join the party, which can be very difficult thing to organize. But, if as you said, she "annoys everyone"....
  7. by   macawake
    Quote from Emergent
    We have a newer coworker at one of my jobs. She seems to be universally annoying everyone there. She seems to want to intrude in every conversation with over sharing about her own life. She will show photo after photo of her cat in different poses and other really boring things. She has some shopping fetishes that she goes into great detail about.
    Quote from Emergent
    How do you all deal with somebody like this? I think people are being nice enough to her face, but there is a lot of backbiting going on about how she is driving them crazy.
    She does sound rather annoying. Viewing a zillion cat photos would drive me around the bend. That said, people who are nice to someone's face but talk **** behind their backs, annoy me more than people with a somewhat obsessive and repetitive conversational repertoire.

    Has anyone tried to address this directly with her? She does sound like she might be socially inept and that she doesn't interpret signals/body language very well. I think that every person deserves at least one chance to change their behavior. Perhaps she enjoys being somewhat obnoxious and dominating conversations with her favorite topics, but it is possible that she's actually unaware of how she is perceived by others.

    I've had coworkers similar to her, and I've always told them if I found their behavior excessive. Of course I've only done this if their behavior was truly outside the social norm, I wouldn't address it simply because they enjoy topics of discussion that I find boring. In those cases I'd just try to avoid having lengthy conversations with them. I'd either get busy elsewhere or if it happened during for example a meal break, I'd read a book or get busy with my smartphone so that I seem less approachable. That usually works for me.

    Quote from Emergent
    Not only that, she butts into patient care with grandstanding and trying to direct the person to do things her way right in front of the patient. She is extremely bossy and obtuse regarding how she's coming across. And any little fault she comes across she writes up. She's also poked into other people's charts for no reason.
    This part obviously needs to be adressed. If she doesn't have any legitimate reason to read a patient's chart, she shouldn't be reading it. If it were me, I'd talk to her directly and if she didn't change, I'd bring it up the chain of command. Lecturing coworkers in front of patients, unless she has identified a dangerous situation and legitimately corrects the coworker to prevent harm to the patient, is another no-no. It undermines the patient's trust in their caregivers so that behavior needs to stop too. I'd take the same approach as with the chart reading.

    Quote from Emergent
    She is a physically very large woman both in height and girth. She has a poor sense of personal space and gets into peoples bubbles.
    Oh my... I am "large" in height but not in girth, but I must say that I've always thought that if I invaded someone's personal space, they'd be more bothered if I'd oversprayed my favorite Tom Ford (monster sillage/projection), rather than quetching about my height... Seriously, people who have no respect for another person's personal space, are annoying regardless of size.
  8. by   not.done.yet
    The only thing in the original post that anything really can be done about is her peering into charts without a justified cause for doing so. Looking at charts is now on a "need to know" basis and if she is not part of that patient's care team, she has no need to know and it is a HIPAA violation, which should be reported to management.

    All of the rest falls under the fact that you can't control someone else. You can only control how you react to them. There is nothing you can or cannot do to make this person be more likeable. Chances are she has been that way all her life and now, firmly ensconced in middle age, it just is who she is.
  9. by   meanmaryjean
    Sometimes, a very direct conversation over a cup of coffee in a neutral location is needed. 1:1 so she does not feel ganged up on. Just facts.
  10. by   Sour Lemon
    Quote from Emergent
    We have a newer coworker at one of my jobs. She seems to be universally annoying everyone there. She seems to want to intrude in every conversation with over sharing about her own life. She will show photo after photo of her cat in different poses and other really boring things. She has some shopping fetishes that she goes into great detail about.


    She is a physically very large woman both in height and girth. She has a poor sense of personal space and gets into peoples bubbles. Not only that, she butts into patient care with grandstanding and trying to direct the person to do things her way right in front of the patient. She is extremely bossy and obtuse regarding how she's coming across. And any little fault she comes across she writes up. She's also poked into other people's charts for no reason.

    I get the feeling that she is socially starved. How do you all deal with somebody like this? I think people are being nice enough to her face, but there is a lot of backbiting going on about how she is driving them crazy.
    I'd say, "That's a cat, alright!" and just walk away. If they want to keep talking, they can talk to the back of my head. These people figure out who won't give them attention pretty fast and will look elsewhere.
  11. by   Anne413
    With respect, it might help to look within yourself to separate your personal biases and try to separate the personal and professional "annoying" characteristics that she has.
    First: Personal: This isn't high school where the prettiest and most socially polished are the "good friends". She's large? Unless she smells or her appearance somehow makes her unable to do her job, that sounds like a "that's your problem and how old are you" category. She likes her cats? She likes to shop? It certainly seems like she is trying to feel part of the team and included. If she was attractive and showed pictures of her vacations, dogs, homes, etc. would you like it better? Please understand, I'm not jumping on you, but all kinds of folk are nurses and these personal characteristics are nothing more than who she is. She may be insecure about a new job and wants to impress her coworkers. Coworkers being dismissive and disgusted behind her back for her appearance and characteristics certainly won't help. Why not have some coffee and find out more about her? After establishing some trust, you could bring up your discomfort with the personal space and other personal aspects that make you uncomfortable, those aspects you have a right to bring up, of course. This is just decent adult behavior.

    The professional aspect is different easier to deal with, and required by you as a staff member. She has to have a supervisor. Being authoritarian in front of patients is a no no. A supervisor would be able to help her make corrections in her behavior as related to her job performance and that should improve, regardless of who it annoys or who it doesn't. Getting into patient charts that she is not assigned to may or may not be a no no with policy. Often new staff are allowed to review old charts to get to know the procedures and filing styles. Either way, telling her supervisor in an appropriate professional manner about your concerns will go towards improving her job performance.

    Your last sentence concerns me. I don't know about you, but I can spot in a minute when someone is being "nice to my face". Again, this is not the high school lunch room. Are you also making comments behind her back? I'm sorry, but it certainly seems like you are. If she was petite, beautiful, and all polished pretty for the team that would make a difference, that is very easy to read between the lines. It certainly looks like she has some areas to work on in personal and professional growth, but I think her coworkers do as well.
    Last edit by Anne413 on Sep 11 : Reason: typo
  12. by   Anne413
    Quote from Sour Lemon
    I'd say, "That's a cat, alright!" and just walk away. If they want to keep talking, they can talk to the back of my head. These people figure out who won't give them attention pretty fast and will look elsewhere.
    With all due respect, that is one of the least collegial, unkind, and nonproductive comments I've ever read. That is my professional and personal opinion.
  13. by   Sour Lemon
    Quote from Anne413
    With all due respect, that is one of the least collegial, unkind, and nonproductive comments I've ever read. That is my professional and personal opinion.
    Oh, it's very productive and allows me to get on with all the things I need to do.
    What's "unkind" is holding someone hostage while their patients wait and wait ...and wait some more.
    I honestly believe that these people do pick up on clues from others ...but their own needs come first, so they plod on as long as you'll allow them to.
  14. by   TriciaJ
    Since she's still new, does she have some sort of probationary eval coming up? Some of the behaviours really should be addressed by management: looking into charts without reason, undermining other staff by butting into patient care, low threshold for writing people up. These all speak to professional conduct and are grounds for disciplinary action.

    The social cluelessness is another issue. When she butts into a conversation: "Excuse me, I think xxxx was still saying something." Cat photos: "I like cats; I just don't find them endlessly fascinating." On the flip side, it would be nice if people greeted her warmly and asked how were her days off. But when that opens the inevitable can of worms, you'd have to be prepared to cut her off nicely.

    This is really going to take a consistent and united front. And even then, we may see her on here complaining about how she was bullied. Good luck.

close