Why Do People Bully Me? - page 3

Unfortunately, bullying is an unpleasant fact of working life for far too many employees in our society. And surveys have discovered that the two workplaces that suffer the most from bullying bosses... Read More

  1. by   rnfostermom
    I read this article with great interest. Since becoming a nurse 8 years ago, I have had a few significantly bad experiences with workplace bullies, as well as many smaller other incidents of general workplace rudeness. I wouldn't say that I'm more "socially adept" (I tend to think I'm NOT) but most of the other descriptors fit me quite well. I think I am generally well respected (someone recently told me that they heard I was "strict" but others have told me that I'm a very good nurse, others have said that they love to follow me because I leave a clean, comfortable patient and an organized situation for them at the end of my shift.) I would rather chew off my foot than confront someone so I suppose that makes me an easy target. I also have very high standards of patient care and I was told by another nurse that the nurse who bullied me was probably put off by this. Another factor was that, even though I've been a nurse for several years, I've tried out new practice areas in my hospital and thus have been a "newbie" several times in the past few years. My lack of confidence in myself in my new practice area caused me to assume people on the new unit knew more than me and that I needed their help more than I actually did. That was what led to my most recent bullying incident from a 30 year nurse on the unit who is really just awful to many on the unit but especially hates me.

    We have bimonthly hospital wide nurse education at my hospital. Each time they ask us to note on the response card ideas for future topics. I've listed this topic several times and still, nothing. When I've complained to management about the 2 most egregious incidents, the managers did speak to the people involved, but no punishment and nothing to fix the underlying problem. I hate the idea that I need to get right back up in the faces of these bullies because that's SO not me. It also seems so unprofessional and I'm a classic first born child who likes to follow all the rules. I'm like a deer in the headlights when I'm faced with people who don't! (Husband says it's because I lack "street smarts.") I guess all this means I still don't have the answers for myself, but I really appreciated seeing this article and knowing I'm not alone out there! Finally, I'd like to point out that I'm not a young nurse, I'm 45, so it can happen to all ages!
  2. by   BHPNEP07
    You teach people how to treat you....It is perfectly professional and right to look a bully in the eye and say "What and how you are speaking to me in inappropriate. I treat you with respect, I expect the same." it takes practice and COURAGE. Here's some reading anyone might find helpful r/t dealing with bullies:

    -"Comebacks At Work" by Kathleen Kelley Reardon, PhD
    -Articles on Carefronting:

    Addressing Multigenerational Conflict: Mutual Respect and Carefronting as Strategy


    Good luck-
  3. by   Paul'in'FL
    Quote from Nurse19842013
    I work on a Medical floor and have been a nurse for 4 years. There is a "seasoned" (in his 50-60's) male nurse who bullies me regularly. It all began when I started following him at shift change. He left me many messes and I am a worry wort, so I would always questions things. He seems to be very lazy and I am the polar opposite. He leaves meds to be given after his shift, or will just not give medications he feels are unimportant etc. He also has a very foul mouth, calling previous coworkers at other hospitals (which he frequently jumps jobs) b*tches.....or his b*tches. The other night he told a nursing supervisor he didn't know why he couldn't float to OB because "its not like I want to look at "c**tchie all night"!!!!! I am just so appalled, I don't know what to do.

    He bullies me by talking about me to other nurses. He says I am a worry wort and run around like crazy. He also spread a rumor that I would rather clean up patients than be a real nurse because once during shift change a woman was screaming because she was full of stool and I went to clean her up (he wasn't even ready for report yet) when all the CNAs were busy. I felt bad for the woman and if that were me or my family, I would want the same courtesy. But I get along with everyone I work with except for him! He gives new nurses bad teams on purpose (which I have heard him proudly say). Nobody says anything to him because he has a big and foul mouth. He brags all the time about telling people off.

    I liked this article because I realize I really have to stick up for myself. And I need to be more confident, or show it at least. He has also commented on my hair color when I changed it and called my friend coworker a fat b*tch.

    I am generally well liked I feel (I think I guess since people tell me when he says these things, lol), co-workers always say if they were a patient they would want me as a nurse. I have to be more confident and tell him exactly when he is offending me or when I feel he omitted something important (instead of cleaning up his mess). I am definitely non confrontational and do feel shame, and especially feel worse when nurses like him talk badly about me! I am not the only one btw. There is another nurse he talks about, and she is amazing, so I am not sure why he picks on her. And its not like anyone listens to him, they all know how he is.....but it still bothers me deeply.

    What is the funniest, almost ironic thing.....is that he brags about being such a "hard person" and telling people off, but instead he just acts like a juvenile girl and spreads rumors and bullies younger nurses like myself. I have had a hard time dealing with this, but am definitely glad I read this article.
    I would start keeping notes ASAP....dates, times, and names of others present. Ver BAtim. For every missed med, an incident report. This sort of pit bull cannot respond to kindness...he gets his rocks off being a "bad dude". Clearly, he will leave this job, just as he has left others.

    I have had more than one run in with these dudes.....I scream "easy target" physically. But this "queer m-fer" does not tolerate name calling. Last person that tried the bully route is now working at Best Buy....no longer a licensed nurse.

  4. by   brown eyed girl
    I love the article! I have been the receiver of aggressive and abusive behavior at my current job twice; once by the DON AND THE ADON. For me, I nipped the situation in the bud IMMEDIATELY! I am a firm believer in "giving back what is given to me" right where you dish it out. Some call it "unprofessional," I don't. Attempting to belittle or harass me is intolerable, no matter who it is; and I feel that it is my duty to let it be known that I won't stand for it. I've had many conversations in the past with various co-workers (CNA'S AND LPN'S) and at different times about how nurse management behaviors could be; some said that they'd even witnessed it. I couldn't believe what I was hearing and asked if the "victim" ever stood up for themselves and the answer was always the same, "NO." It was well known that their behavior was common knowledge except, I was the only one apparently who didn't know and had never had the displeasure of experiencing it; so when it happened to me the first time by the ADON, I really was shocked. FOR REAL! I couldn't believe at how bold, confident, and COMFORTABLE she was at speaking to me in the manner that she was at the nurse's station IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY DURING SHIFT CHANGE! I think she and all those around were more surprised at my immediate response to her! Needless to say, she never pulled it again.

    The second time, it was the DON; for this situation, I did my best (YES IT WAS HARD!) to play it cool as a cucumber but repeatedly asked her in a calm tone of voice, "why are you talking to me like that?;" "please stop talking to me like that;" and, "I asked you to stop talking to me like that." I ultimately walked away from her because I RECOGNIZED THAT SHE WAS BAITING ME. I finished what I had to do, grabbed my things, clocked out, and WENT DIRECTLY TO THE ADMINISTRATOR TO REPORT HER. It got back to me the next week that she told a few people that I reported her. She also has never pulled that foolishness with me again either.

    Luckily for me, I don't really see either of them anymore (mainly because I stopped working a lot of overtime completely to help them out) and I make for sure that on Monday mornings, MY WORK IS ACCURATELY AND ENTIRELY COMPLETE, I'M READY TO COUNT, GIVE REPORT, AND LEAVE so I can totally avoid having any interaction with them because its not worth my sanity and I refuse to allow anyone to use and abuse me.
    Last edit by brown eyed girl on Feb 27, '13 : Reason: grammar
  5. by   frodo-dog
    "• The self-starter who is feisty and independent
    • A person who is technically more skilled than the bully
    • The target is more emotionally intelligent and socially adept than the bully; the target is well-liked
    • The target is ethical and honest to a fault
    • The target is not a confrontational person. He or she does not respond. Frankly, the target is stunned and bewildered."
    This is me to a tee! I get bullied everywhere I work. I just got written up at work, I was stunned. They showed me a list of lies that the two bullies had run into management with and management had simply written down every lie that the they had run into them with without ever questioning the information. As a consequence I have been asked to leave my job. After proving that the information was incorrect, management refused to recind the write up, but is supporting my internal transfer.
    They are both CNA's and sit texting on the floor all day, when asked to help with pts, they dont even look up and state "I'm Busy!". Because they have been there a long time, management supports them and not the new RN's. Thats where bullying gets its support. We even had a "BEE" initiative but if its not supported by management.... its worthless.
  6. by   twopurpleskittles
    I was also bullied as a new nurse working my first job in the ICU. I was actually still in my preceptor-ship. The charge nurse, with 100+ years of experience (lol), was the perp. I'm not sure why she tested me. I find it hard to believe it was just because I was a new nurse in the ICU. She asked me routinely after report about my patients and I would give her the low-down. I didn't know this but she had already gotten the low-down from my preceptor. One day, she asked and I told her that one of my pts had HIT. She said that she had DIC. She went on to say how incompetent I was for not knowing my pts conditions and how did I intend to take care of them when I didn't even know what was going on with them. I told her again that the pt has HIT not DIC. She demanded that I bring her the chart. I told her I couldn't because the doctor had it. This was all in front of 1/2 the ICU nurses and a couple of drs. My preceptor came back over and the charge nurse asked her what the pt had going on. She said DIC. I corrected her and she told the charge that she made a mistake, it was HIT. I said "Oh, I guess I'm not incompetent after all. I do know what is going on with the pt. Huh." She never did that to me again.

    I had another episode just a few years back. She was a "friend". We had worked in peace for over a year when things changed. I was working as charge on night shift. She was an LPN on day shift who'd been there for much longer. She began questioning my work every morning. She would ask me about work that had nothing to do with her job in any way. I let it slide a few times. Then I'd had enough. She asked me again. I said firmly but calmly, "I don't know why you find it necessary to question me. You are not now, nor have you ever been in charge of me. It is not your place to question me." She never spoke to me again. Perfect! Problem solved. I've had numerous other attempts by LPNs but direct, calm confrontation has thwarted them each time.

    I will say that I've had many more CNAs/LPNs attempt to bully me than RNs. In fact, I've only had one RN do it. I think it's sad. I'm very encouraging and share as much knowledge and tips as the other nurse will accept. I've let new nurses start IVs on me! I just don't understand. If you want what I have, work for it like I did. If I can do it, so can you! I've said that last line a million times.

    I strive for a peaceful, encouraging relationship with my coworkers because the job itself is stressful enough. I found it very difficult to foster on day shift so I went to nights several years ago. I love night shift. My teammate is amazing. She is an amazing LPN that I would carry across a lake of fire. My other coworkers on night shift have been awesome as well.

    I believe direct, calm confrontation is the only way to address a bully. I don't agree with screaming back or returning foul language. No need to lose control of oneself or sink to the bully level. I also don't agree with the victim being at fault for any reason whatsoever. I don't care what you look like, act like, speak like... NO ONE brings bullying behavior upon themselves. I liken that to the appalling notion that the rape victim brought it on herself because of the skirt she chose to wear or the dancing she likes to dance! NONSENSE!
  7. by   samadams8
    Even if you are calm, with certain people, if you confront directly, and you haven't fully assessed their MO, they can turn it into you being "confrontational and argumentative," and feed that or stroke that up with the manager. Seen it over and over again. Its funny how this kind of thing happens a lot during orientation or in the first year at a place. There is a reason for that. The newbie doesn't not have the support and influence yet.

    Again, we need to be careful here. You can and should stand up to abuse, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach. You really have to study the culture/environment. You might get away with standing up off the cuff in some situations; but there are plenty of places and people that will just be use your approach as fuel against you. I've seen this play out many times over.

    You don't fight louder or harder; you have to fight smarter, and that often means getting some key intel. Even then, depending on those with the most influence and the current leadership, the confronting or getting in someone's face and putting them in their place may not work--given the current landscape. In fact, it may make matters worse.

    Bullying that is unresolvable in a particular culture is an indicator that you may probably need to look elsewhere, or at least do something to avoid interacting more frequently with the bullies. If standing up and doing it well worked, plenty of us experienced nurses, who are in no way afraid to speak up for ourselves, would have resolved a lot of stuff with much ease over the years. Truth is, there is a right and wrong time for everything.

    It may be that, in general, bullies like to hit on the most vulnerable or take the path of least resistance; but it depends. There are all different kinds of bullies. Some people get off on going after those that are more of a challenge. It makes them feel even more powerful when they can take down the bigger game.

    There is no easy answer to the problem. What you have to do is a lot like we do with our patients. So we use the nursing process. In a simliar way we have to assess, diagnose, plan, implement, evaluate, and then re-assess. . . What works in one situation will not necessarily work in another; b/c not all bullies are the same or have the same MO, and also, for bullying to really work well, bullying requires some kind of silent or not-so-silent accomplices, and often that includes leadership that goes along with these bullying people for one reason or another. Often the bullies have the power of influence. They have made their in-roads, and they want you to know that you are at their mercy.
    Last edit by samadams8 on Feb 27, '13
  8. by   redhead_NURSE98!
    Quote from Kidrn911
    I have been bullied in the past due to my religious convictions, one is I wear a skirt instead of scrub pants. I get the third degree from people on how I should be cold and uncomfortable. It is almost to the point of harassment. If I was a Muslim and wearing Burka nothing is said, but a Christian woman wearing a modest scrub skirt, gets put down. It is ridiculous.

    How silly. They are ignorant of a mainstream Christian religion. Must be very sad people.

    I get bullied too sometimes. I think it's because I'm young and very hot.
    Last edit by redhead_NURSE98! on Feb 27, '13
  9. by   StNeotser
    I see the point of the article..................best to provide potential victims with some defense against bullying...........but why do employers tolerate bullying in the first place?

    Unfortunately in one job I was bullied by a unit manager and someone who worked on the day shift. I was working the weekend shift They would go to the director of nursing and tell her that something had happened and then allude to the fact that it was on my shift.

    I cut my losses and left that job as I reported to the unit manager - you aren't going to win when the bully is the person you directly report to, even though I never had any face time with that manager. The DON was new, and I was never sure if she just didn't want to deal with these two individuals and just went with what they said to keep the peace. It was easy to bully someone that management didn't really know. Of course the day shift bully went on to take the weekend shift job that I left vacant. Of course all my co workers told me they thought the behavior was despicable but nobody really went out of their way to tell the DON, because at the end of the day, bullying and horizontal violence all looks like childish bickering.

    And I'm much better off now I don't have that job.
  10. by   Conqueror+
    If anyone wants a non confrontational tip for dealing with bullies walking away when they address you or literally turning your back on them and continuing what you were doing seem to work well (if they insist on fussing at your back try your best to cut one : ). A person looks very delusional standing in a hallway berating an empty space or someone's back.
  11. by   Mgooddir
    Very good post! It has been a shock to me as a nurse when I've seen this kind of behavior, especially when I was a new nurse. Why do people who are supposedly "caring" treat others this way? I agree it's due to insecurity. Some of these bullies can be helped to feel less insecure by asking their opinion or finding something good they do, and complimenting it. Some see that as weakness, too. Every situation is different, and we need to care for ourselves and each other just as much as our patients! I've used the "make a joke out of it" response as well and found it to be effective. Example: I used to snowboard professionally and my snarky co-worker states "You are such an expert snowboarder, so why didn't you get a season pass this year" I just laughed and said, "Why _____, does it Bother you I didn't get a season pass? I didn't Realize that would be a problem for you!" and laugh and laugh like it's a good joke. (As if it's Any of her business, anyway!) This has worked well for me but you must be prepared for the behavior ahead of time, it used to shock me so much that I didn't know what to say. Life has improved with strategies. I still wonder why the bullying behavior is so rampant in the nursing field, any opinions?!
    • The self-starter who is feisty and independent
    • A person who is technically more skilled than the bully
    • The target is more emotionally intelligent and socially adept than the bully; the target is well-liked
    • The target is ethical and honest to a fault
    • The target is not a confrontational person. He or she does not respond. Frankly, the target is stunned and bewildered. The target is convinced he or she can overcome this. It’s all shame-based; the target feels shame. The target comes to believe he or she is incompetent. It’s a disassembly of the target’s personality. - See more at: Why Do People Bully Me?
  12. by   areensee
    What I will never understand is how bullies remain in their positions. There should be zero tolerance in the workplace. Maybe if more employers find themselves on the losing end of a hostile working condition suit, they might think twice about letting such jerks remain in their positions. Know that the law is on the side of victim. It is illegal to create a hostile working environment and certainly illegal to harass fellow workers based on a protected class (such as gender). It is the legal responsibility of every employer to provide a safe working environment, and they can be sued if they fail to do so!

    Nursing is hard enough work, we don't need bullies making it even harder to do what is already a difficult job.
  13. by   Mgooddir
    arrensee, So True! Some of the bullying is so sneaky and subversive, I've had a supervisor ask me to clean protective eye-wear used in laser surgery, so I did. While cleaning my aforementioned snarky co-worker walks by and questions why am I doing that, I say supervisor ____ asked me to?! "Well I already did it! Didn't you notice?!" I was just shocked and she walked off. Later told supervisor about incident, and she also got on my case about didn't I check if they were clean first! Well does she want me to question everything she asks me to do? As nurses, we all know that germs are invisible.....Just stupid, silly treatment of a professional nurse doing her job.