Bullying--The Other "B" Word - page 2

by rn/writer Guide

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Not long ago if another nurse rolled her eyes when you gave report, cut you off while you were asking a question, or ignored you when said you needed help wasting a narcotic, she would have been called the b word that rhymes... Read More


  1. 5
    Sorry but I have to disagree with you. The definition of a bully is NOT that a person must be actively out to cause significant harm to you, i.e. losing your job.

    I pulled some of this from Wikipedia because I am too tired to re-summarize someone else's research:

    "Bullying behavior may include name calling, verbal or written abuse, exclusion from activities, exclusion from social situations, physical abuse, or coercion.[11][16] Bullies may behave this way to be perceived as popular or tough or to get attention. They may bully out of jealousy or be acting out because they themselves are bullied.[17]
    U.S. National Center for Education Statistics suggests that bullying can be classified into two categories: Direct bullying, and indirect bullying (which is also known as social aggression).[1]
    Ross states that direct bullying involves a great deal of physical aggression, such as shoving and poking, throwing things, slapping, choking, punching and kicking, beating, stabbing, pulling hair, scratching, biting, scraping, and pinching.[18]
    He also suggests that social aggression or indirect bullying is characterized by threatening the victim into social isolation. This isolation is achieved through a wide variety of techniques, including spreading gossip, refusing to socialize with the victim, bullying other people who wish to socialize with the victim, and criticizing the victim's manner of dress and other socially-significant markers (including the victim's race, religion, disability, sex, or sexual preference, etc.). Ross[18] outlines other forms of indirect bullying which are more subtle and more likely to be verbal, such as name calling, the silent treatment, arguing others into submission, manipulation, gossip/false gossip, lies, rumors/false rumors, staring, giggling, laughing at the victim, saying certain words that trigger a reaction from a past event, and mocking. The UK based children's charity, Act Against Bullying, was set up in 2003 to help children who were victims of this type of bullying by researching and publishing coping skills.
    It has been noted that there tend to be differences in how bullying manifests itself between the sexes. Males tend to be more likely to be physically aggressive whereas females tend to favour exclusion and mockery, though it has been noticed that females are becoming more physical in their bullying."

    In today's world, its important to consider not only what perceived benefit you derive from your behavior in the workplace but also what the direct result of that behavior is on those that work directly with you and under your authority.

    As we are all aware, you can't claim ignorance of the law as defense. You can not tell the officer, "Well, I just didn't KNOW that the speed limit was thus and such..." and similarly, you can not claim that you didn't bully someone just because your intent wasn't to cause them to lose their job.

    Regardless of the intent if the effect was that the person felt excluded or isolated from professional activities then you, in fact, bullied that person.
  2. 4
    This was a succinct article, clarifying the two B's. Thank you! Such a difference between a personality conflict and true bullying. Bullying certainly is the nurse who is in a position of authority who has targeted you, and whose main goal is not mutual respect, but puts you in a position of being in fear of being thrown under the bus. I've seen a number of posts here where nurses have asked "when do I know if I should be looking for another job?" If you have an inkling that your license is at risk because of the other nurses' behavior toward you, it's probably time. I've seen bullying become "mobbing" when the bully is able to swing other nurses to her way of thinking, and/or is good friends with management. Then, IMO, it's time to cut your losses and look elsewhere. You should be able to leave your job at the end of the day, and retain your peace. Nothing is worth your loss of peace.
  3. 1
    Absolutely on target! Fantastic article and well put.

    As it was once said,"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission." The fact is we have to own our choices on how we feel. Victimization has never helped anyone. Even a true Victim gets counseling to learn to cope and move past the pain and hurt.
    rn/writer likes this.
  4. 2
    Nicely done.

    I would like to see people at work learn to look after their own needs better. When someone is extremely witchy I tend to ask them about it (usually later and in private). It is not OK to be obnoxious to me at work or anywhere where else. What i do not do, is make it personal. I simply state "xxxxxx is really not OK with me". I don't make them wrong by using incendiary language (calling them rude) nor do I globalize the problem (e.g.tell them other people on the unit think a,b or c about them). This helps prevent the situation from escalating. If they react badly, and some do, I can go home knowing I have looked after myself. The next time I see that person I greet them properly and look them in the eye (i.e. I don't hold a grudge). Hopefully this sends a message that it was their behavior and not them that was the issue.

    In the general course of my day people can be tense and terse, as can I. When I take this personally I am the person with the problem. This direct approach is hard -- because it is direct.

    Oh yes, and when I am a jerk and someone points it out, I am grateful because I know it took courage to approach me. I don't want to be the team witch.

    BTW don't think I am having private words with everyone who is rude (or whatever).
    dudette10 and rn/writer like this.
  5. 11
    I don't think that holding people to a higher standard of civility is necessarily a bad thing. Instead of telling the sensitive people to "get a thicker skin", I'd tell the rude people that they need to work on their character.
    DroogieRN, VICEDRN, PintheD, and 8 others like this.
  6. 0
    Quote from duckyluck111
    I don't think that holding people to a higher standard of civility is necessarily a bad thing. Instead of telling the sensitive people to "get a thicker skin", I'd tell the rude people that they need to work on their character.
    I wasn't telling sensitive people to get a thicker skin. I wanted to help them distinguish between rudeness and something more threatening. People who automatically see bullying in witchy behavior are far less likely to "tell rude people that they need to work on their character," which, I agree, can be just what the nurse practitioner ordered.

    Loutish classmates or co-workers are just asking for others to stand up to them, refuse to be cowed by their snarkiness, and set some limits (not always wise with a bully). LThe whole group can benefit when the ill-tempered are called on their bad behavior. But if you convince yourself that you're dealing with a bully when you're not, you'll probably back away and start feeling oppressed.
    Thanks for the input.
  7. 7
    Great post - thankyou.

    Just a point though - I feel witch can easily blur into bully in some situations. In these situations nurses bully with cattiness - their practice of exclusion and minimisation, for example - is how they do it. Nothing more complex or worldly is required - not much more evolved than high school bully girl behaviour.

    A sense of powerlessness results when the workplace culture doesn't allow confrontation ( the NM handles the issues - resulting in most people limiting their visits into the NM's office to report an infraction), when huge evidence is required from the bullied to substantiate a case and when the whistleblower becomes victimised.
    This is great culture for the nurse bully and being very witchy is how these individuals bully in nursing
    This sense of powerlessness is perhaps more pronounced in those who have invested more into their education. Those newbies with a prior degree plus their nursing degree seem to feel this 'powerlessness' very acutely - 'I went to university for how many years and now I have to put up with this high school garbage'. Our second career newbies; particularly those who have had professional corporate roles, take a good hard look at the bully girls and tend to make a swift exit. This exit is often right out of nursing.

    The culture of powerlessness enables these witches to become bullies when people lose part of themselves (confidence? selfesteem?) or; as is common - their jobs when they walk away, or their careers when their chain of progression is broken.

    So they do achieve their purpose here simply by some very catty behaviour - competition leaves. Those they target? New nurses with intelligence, sensitivity, potential to develop strong clinical skills and who happen to have obvious professional skill (the whole package).
    Note they rarely are catty to everyone. They leave most of the others alone - bar some rude behaviour.
    They do have a goal - but it handily becomes muddied in this scenario.
    What i am trying to say here ..... the nurse bully MO is often a calculated cattiness.
    It's effective... they learnt it in high school and it still works in many nursing environments
    Last edit by pedicurn on Oct 6, '11
    VICEDRN, PintheD, *LadyJane*, and 4 others like this.
  8. 0
    Quote from DolceVita
    Nicely done.

    I would like to see people at work learn to look after their own needs better. When someone is extremely witchy I tend to ask them about it (usually later and in private). It is not OK to be obnoxious to me at work or anywhere where else. What i do not do, is make it personal. I simply state "xxxxxx is really not OK with me". I don't make them wrong by using incendiary language (calling them rude) nor do I globalize the problem (e.g.tell them other people on the unit think a,b or c about them). This helps prevent the situation from escalating. If they react badly, and some do, I can go home knowing I have looked after myself. The next time I see that person I greet them properly and look them in the eye (i.e. I don't hold a grudge). Hopefully this sends a message that it was their behavior and not them that was the issue.

    In the general course of my day people can be tense and terse, as can I. When I take this personally I am the person with the problem. This direct approach is hard -- because it is direct.

    Oh yes, and when I am a jerk and someone points it out, I am grateful because I know it took courage to approach me. I don't want to be the team witch.

    BTW don't think I am having private words with everyone who is rude (or whatever).
    The bolded part above is an excellent example of assertive behavior. You stand your ground, focus on the behavior, set some limits, and walk away knowing that you took care of yourself without attacking the other person. And then you let it go.

    Bravo!
  9. 0
    Sorry but I have to disagree with you. The definition of a bully is NOT that a person must be actively out to cause significant harm to you, i.e. losing your job.
    I don't think we disagree at all.

    The examples in your quote (post #10) are not just witchy behavior, and they would cause significant harm to a person's sanity and sense of well-being. Bullies do have agendas, even if they're nothing more than torturing the victim.

    The point of the article was to help people distinguish between the calculated, relentless targeting of a bully and the snitting and sniping of a rude person. Not every crabby co-worker is a bully. But if every ill-mannered act is perceived as bullying, people may be too freaked out to practice the assertiveness and limit-setting that can let a witchy person know they need to back off.
  10. 0
    Quote from rn/writer
    Thanks, guys, for the input

    I wrote this because I have seen so many "bully" complaints that were really reactions to someone's rudeness. We're all so Kumbyah and Kool-Aid these days that people have either forgotten, or were never taught in the first place, how to take care of themselves and their tender feelings, so a brusque exchange now rubs against them like sandpaper.

    As soon as the new "B" word enters the picture, you have folks who freak. Most of the time a few lessons in snappy comebacks or zen calmness would take care of things. But without that, and without the ability to distinguish between a witchy co-worker and a bully, things can get ugly fast.

    Let me just add that this article is directed toward adults. Kids have a whole different dynamic that I don't even want to approach. But grown-ups need to learn how to take care of themselves in the school and work worlds without feeling persecuted when some curmudgeon gives them a hard time.
    How is bullying different in kids, can a peer be a bully? is the definition different? are the kids who are "bullied" now the adults who will be "bullied" as adults ?


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