Unfriendly Coworker

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    I would like your advice on this and I just need to vent. Perhaps I am being too sensitive. A fellow nursing instructor will hardly speak to me other than a cursory "good morning" greeting. She acts cold, distant, almost resentful to me, but will be friendly to other faculty members. There is not much communication between us, and this can hurt if it continues, as we share the courseload for the second semester students. I really do long to see a collegial relationship between the two of us. Her attitude is actually nothing compared to the actions of a faculty member who left (won't get into the details, but this other faculty member was very hostile, constantly undermining me, and tried to destroy me professionally on a number of occasions but failed). Any suggestions for breaking the ice? (Sometimes the atmosphere here is subarctic). ALL of the other nursing faculty (especially my DON) are very supportive and friendly and the overall working environment is great. Thanks for listening :kiss
    Last edit by VickyRN on Jan 19, '04
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  3. 10 Comments so far...

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    Hi VickyRN

    How about approaching her and asking for a sit-down discussion between the two of you. Share with her your concerns about the coldness you feel from her, and ask her how things can be improved between the two of you because you'd really like her to know how much you truly care about everyone you work with, and do not wish to have any ill-feelings exist in the workplace with instructors you must work side by side with, etc.

    Communication with an open heart and mind are always the necessities to begin with when trying to have an open heart to heart with another person. Sometimes...even when we are NOT the one openly creating the tension, we must step up to the plate and melt the ice with love, caring, compassion, and a listening ear.

    She may be receptive, and she may not, but at least you will have given her the chance to share her feelings with you on why she treats you so coldly. If she fails to respond to your desire to make things better with you...just continue being a pleasant coworker and pray for her loss.........which is getting to know you better, and work in a tension free work relationship with you.
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    I agree with cheerfuldoer...I have had one instance as an RN where this occurred and I finally sat the other RN down and we had it out so to speak. The tension slowly dissolved after that conversation and we actually became good friends.

    I just used the "I" statements..which is so hard since SHE was making me feel that way. ie: "I am feeling like there is some tension between us. Is there something I did to cause this?" versus.."You are making me feel like you don't like me"..etc etc.
    Take responsibility for how you are feeling but don't make it sound as if it is her fault. She will have to respond and either deny there is a problem or take her own responsibility

    I once read a book (can't remember which one) that said people tend to shut down once they hear "You"..Good luck. Erin

    This type of comm also works great with teenage boys!! I know!!
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    Thank you so much for your suggestions and words of wisdom. I will prayerfully consider all that you said.
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    Originally posted by VickyRN
    [B] A fellow nursing instructor will hardly speak to me other than a cursory "good morning" greeting. She acts cold, distant, almost resentful to me, but will be friendly to other faculty members. There is not much communication between us, and this can hurt if it continues, as we share the courseload for the second semester students. I really do long to see a collegial relationship between the two of us.B]

    So long as you can professionally execute your faculty responsibilities, what do you care? It is not her obligation to like you, nor to be friendly toward you. She has the distinct right to choose her own friends and apparently she does NOT choose you. So what?

    You are creating the "problem" by being so needy of her approval, friendship, etc. that you "long" for it. That, in itself, may well be putting her off, as neediness often does. Why this "longing" anyway? Whatever you need in your life that you are hoping she will fulfill, you need to get satisfied elsewhere, IMHO.

    I would suggest you just do your job and let her do hers.
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    Thanks, sjoe, for your suggestions. I will keep these in mind as well. Yes, at times I am "needy" of other peoples' approval. This is a weakness that I am working on. There is the real possibility that attempting to discuss this will just alienate her further. Perhaps my coworker is feeling so overwhelmed right now and fatigued, that she has no energy to spare. Perhaps I am misreading her. We all have been working double and triple due to so many faculty resignations. My concern is the lack of communication between us and how this will affect the course and ultimately, the students. Communication issues have already caused some problems which could have been avoided.
    So, I will prayerfully consider all of the advice given and either:
    1. Just let it go and ignore. Or,
    2. Gently broach the subject with "I" phrases and hope to make some headway.
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    I have encountered many unfriendly nurses, and I say if they want to be miserable, let them be. Why should I go out of my way to see what the problem is...some people are just miserable, and looking for company. I just smile and say good morning, and I think this makes them more angry!
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    I still say "put it out there" don't look at it like you need her firendship though. If the two of you have to work as a team in education (which it sounds like you do) at the very least there needs to be a mutual respect in order for the two of you to be a cohesive team..if things get really tense the students may pick up on it and that would not be good..some would probably be uncomfortable, some may use it to their advantage. I am not saying to kiss her butt or anything like that..just tell her that you feel like there is tension and that is important to you and the students for the professional relationship between you to work..then walk away and do what mishl said, smile and say good morning to her every AM..and stay professional eventually she will probably feel like an ass or maybe she will come around but you will feel better because you did what you could and the ball and responsibility are in her court..good luck
  11. 0
    I like Erin's approach as well. A combination of get it out there yet knowing you're there for the students and it's not important that she like you.

    Who knows what secret resentments she's holding that perhaps an honest heart-to-heart can't clear up.

    If it doesn't clear up, then you're no worse off than now.
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    I agree with the posters who have advociated an attempt at discussing the problem in a non threatening way. But Sjoe is right, there is no way to force this co-worker into friendship. Do not be surprised if your attempt at resolving this issue is rebuffed.
    As long as you can work professionally together for the good of the students, that is all that matters. Make sure you document every assignment you give the students that may involve this instructor in any way. Keep her informed, by email or office memo, of your plans for your students that will/can impact her teaching. Speak in a friendly way each AM, then go about your day, she will either warm up or not. Don't let her negative attitude impact your teaching goals.


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