How do you deal with passive aggression in nursing?

  1. 1
    I have a charge nurse that is not out and out mean to me. Instead, her meanness is subtle. In my face, she smiles. But then she is constantly doing things that later I realize were done to be mean like giving another employee a slew of gifts on her birthday. That went right over my head until I realized this employee that received the gifts was being mean to me all of the sudden and I hadn't gotten even a card for my birthday. We have a bulletin board where we can put up nice comments about people. She has put comments up about the people who suck up to her but I noticed there isn't anything about me. Hmmm. Another subtle attack? She is amazing at being able to put me down every single time I work and make me feel inadequate in very subtle ways. I could go on and on here. I mean these things by themselves mean nothing but when you put them together, they are downright demeaning and disrespectful. To go the management seems stupid because how can I pinpoint the problem? She would say it was all innocent. I know others have seen in though. Has anyone out there found a way to deal with this that works?
    Joe V likes this.

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  2. 43 Comments...

  3. 2
    Quote from Sensibility
    I have a charge nurse that is not out and out mean to me. Instead, her meanness is subtle. In my face, she smiles. But then she is constantly doing things that later I realize were done to be mean like giving another employee a slew of gifts on her birthday. That went right over my head until I realized this employee that received the gifts was being mean to me all of the sudden and I hadn't gotten even a card for my birthday. We have a bulletin board where we can put up nice comments about people. She has put comments up about the people who suck up to her but I noticed there isn't anything about me. Hmmm. Another subtle attack? She is amazing at being able to put me down every single time I work and make me feel inadequate in very subtle ways. I could go on and on here. I mean these things by themselves mean nothing but when you put them together, they are downright demeaning and disrespectful. To go the management seems stupid because how can I pinpoint the problem? She would say it was all innocent. I know others have seen in though. Has anyone out there found a way to deal with this that works?
    Are you sure you're not just reading in to this? Maybe she's friends with the nurse she got presents for. I am friendly with my colleagues, but among them I also have work friends, the folks I *really* like and try to hang out with outside of work. Being polite and nice to the other folks I work with is just professionalism imo, not being two-faced.

    And the nice thing board....not every good deed will (or should) get recognized like that. We don't need a reward or a ribbon or an atta-boy for everything we do right.

    And that's where your specific examples end, so it's hard to see what you're seeing in the situation. I would just ignore the behavior that may or may not be there. Be professional, do your work, and don't worry about what this nurse thinks about you.
    Elladora and KelRN215 like this.
  4. 0
    Quote from hiddencatRN

    Are you sure you're not just reading in to this? .
    She tried to actually get me fired by writing me up, which totally backfired because it was proven that what she said wasn't true. It's a long story but let me put it in a nutshell. We have a nurse who yells at people for no reason. When I first started working there, the first night I met her, she yelled at me. So I said something but asked that it be handled in a way that would end amicably. In whatever way it was dealt with because of this yelling nurse's past history, it did not go well for her and my head nurse was offended by that. But I know what you're saying and that's the thing. That's why at first, I thought the same thing. Is this in my head? But it is not just one thing. It is a whole lot of incidences like this that have added up. If you haven't dealt with passive aggression, you don't know what I'm talking about. I just thought if anyone else has handled this, they might have some words of wisdom to offer. BTW, I would not be offended if you favored someone you worked with. I didn't want to write a book here of the various things that have happened. So I picked a few things. I just had a thought about a month after the incident, would I as a head nurse give one of those under me a slew of gifts in front of another employee that I did not give anything to? Would that be appropriate? I think as one in charge, I would consider that if I was going to do that for one person, I would need to do it for everyone.
  5. 1
    It sounds to me as though she is a bully. You are describing what I have seen many times in my career. This behavior shouldn't be tolerated from a staff nurse let alone a charge nurse. My recommendation would be to either find others who are treated the same way and go to mgmnt together or, if you aren't comfortable going to mgmnt alone, I have found that anonymous letters work well. Good luck!
    jen61 likes this.
  6. 9
    If I were you, I would just do my work. The more mental energy you devote to her, the less mental energy you have for your work.
    Elladora, sharpeimom, wooh, and 6 others like this.
  7. 7
    What your head nurse does for other employees who she may or may not have an outside of work relationship with is not your concern. That she writes up "kudos" about other nurses and puts them on the board, again, is not your concern. This stuff is making you parinoid. I will not say I particularly like the type of style this nurse has, nor the nurse who yells, however, your concern needs to be on your job and your patients. Does feel like it is akin to the Junior High Lunchroom, however, it is NOT the Junior High Lunchroom, and you don't have to sit with the cheerleaders. We all want to feel good about what we do. And if you are a nurse who enjoys her job and her patients, then alls good. I would suggest that you build a rich life outside of work. You do not need your co-workers or your superiors to validate you as a person. And the best advice I have ever received it "not everyone is going to like you. Stop trying so hard to make it so. With that being said, it is OK that people don't like you. You like you, you have friends and a life outside of work, go in there, be your best self, and leave knowing that you made a difference".
    I wish you nothing but the best.
    froglet1968, Susie2310, KelRN215, and 4 others like this.
  8. 1
    Passive-aggression bothers me, too. I cannot stand when coworkers pretend to be agreeable on the surface, but express their aggression in indirect ways.

    Anyhow, I wrote about passive-aggression nearly two months ago. If you are interested in learning some tips on how to handle this type of coworker, click on the link below to read what I wrote.

    http://allnurses.com/nurse-colleague...er-746347.html
    Sugarcoma likes this.
  9. 3
    Quote from Sensibility
    She tried to actually get me fired by writing me up, which totally backfired because it was proven that what she said wasn't true. It's a long story but let me put it in a nutshell. We have a nurse who yells at people for no reason. When I first started working there, the first night I met her, she yelled at me. So I said something but asked that it be handled in a way that would end amicably. In whatever way it was dealt with because of this yelling nurse's past history, it did not go well for her and my head nurse was offended by that.
    If you went over charge nurse's head and complained to her bosses after working just one shift with yelling nurse, who suffered negative consequences as a result of that you can reasonably expect charge nurse to be ****** off about that for a variety of reasons. You made her look bad to management. She may be friends with yelling nurse outside of work, so in her mind she may believe you screwed both of them over. She can't fire or suspend you now because it will be seen as retribution. Even if you asked that it be dealt with amicably, managers will just go right ahead and do things their way.

    Realistically, unless something is done to clear the air, she will attempt to sabotage you, keep you in a deep freeze environment until you either quit or one of their false accusations sticks. Having emotional maturity isn't always the case with those in leadership positions.

    You could write a glowing message about her and stick it on that bulletin board. At least it will mess with her head and throw her off her game for a while.

    Wish I had the advice that would make it all get better - I had a job somewhat like that - in was almost a year of living hell before I finally bailed. If I have the sequence of events wrong please excuse.
    Last edit by nursel56 on Aug 4, '12
  10. 0
    I had to re-do this comment after checking the history of your posts! It reads like an episode of Dynasty.

    Wow, nothing is ever your fault, everyone is always out to get you, all those writeups are bogus, everyone is just so mean.

    Flame away folks, but I would avoid you too.
    Last edit by eleectrosaurus on Aug 4, '12 : Reason: yikes
  11. 0
    Quote from Sensibility
    To go the management seems stupid because how can I pinpoint the problem?
    Yes, it would seem stupid.


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