Is your colleague a mind reader? Or just plain lazy

by madwife2002 7,330 Views | 21 Comments Senior Moderator

We have high expectations of our coworkers, but are our expectations realistic and have a sound basis? I find that although we have a lot of expectations of those around us, most of us do not know that others have these expectations.

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    Is your colleague a mind reader? Or just plain lazy

    Everybody around me at work reacts to situations by becoming angry, retaliatory, vindictive and mean. Nobody I work with and I mean nobody I work with looks at the whole picture with their work colleague they automatically presume that their co-worker is out to get them!

    I cannot count how many times over the past three years that one of my employees has accused their colleague of being lazy, not helping them and has watched them struggle with a heavy work load. Now while there are minorities that do fit into this category but there are a lot of RNís who arenít lazy and will go above and beyond to support their coworker.

    When I question the accuser if they asked their colleague to help them, 9 times out of 10 they say no, that the RN or Aid should just know that they are struggling. Now call me strange but how on earth does somebody really know their co-worker is struggling unless they tell them. Unless my co-workers are mind readers! How can they possibly know that somebody needs help?

    I advise the accuser that in the future they should ask for help, and if the help is not forthcoming then first ascertain that the person they are asking is not run off their feet themselves and cannot help or they just donít want to help out. If at that time they feel that the person is deliberately unwilling to help them out then I will step into the picture and investigate.

    What I cannot do is put another RN on trial for not helping out when nobody bothered to ask this person for help. I often hear during these conversations that now they didnít receive help that they will not help anybody else in the future. My response to this statement is Ďwell then you are part of the problemí which gets them thinking! It is a vicious circle if they wonít help me, then I wonít help them, and one of them will visit me to tale tattle on the other.

    I can honestly hold my hand on my heart and tell you all that there is not one person in my unit who is beyond reproach. Every single member of staff without exception has been in my office to complain about somebody else. Every single member of staff has been accused of something by somebody else.

    If I reacted to every single thing I am told, I would spend my whole day every day placing somebody into discipline. There has not been a day in the past few years that a complaint has been made about another member of staff, and do you know if you get both people in a room and ask them to tell you what happened there are two different stories, two different perspectives and one solution! Normally they end up with an understanding of what went wrong and wounded souls are repaired.

    Not one member of staff has a hidden agenda, they want to do a good job and succeed. I work with a fantastic group of people, each and every member of staff is valuable and has a lot to offer.

    My job now is to support them, educate them, improve their team working skills and help them have a happy work life. I believe by giving them the tools and support they can become the best. I know that we all have to work on communication skills!

    Remember before you run to your manager; ask yourselves Ďare you part of the problem?í Did you ask for help? Or do you think your coworker is a mind reader and just knows you are struggling? If they refused to help you, was it because they are struggling themselves, or was it really because they are being downright mean!

    Also what is your objective to taking your complaint to your manager, do you want them to react or do you just want to vent?
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 19, '13
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  3. About madwife2002

    madwife2002 joined Jan '05 - from 'Ohio'. madwife2002 has '24' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'RN, RM, BSN'. Posts: 9,476 Likes: 5,211; Learn more about madwife2002 by visiting their allnursesPage


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    21 Comments so far...

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    I agree totally with your sentiments. In the past I have flat-out told people, "I do not have a crystal ball to read your mind. Speak now or forever hold your piece!"

    Many coworkers are all too quick to skip the chain of command. They come running to the manager whenever a perceived conflict arises instead of having the maturity level to attempt to resolve it with their coworker.
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    I think you should make any employee that complains to you about an interpersonal conflict should take a course on strategies to deal with these types of conflicts. I would find several courses that I find are good and have the reference there for them with a time frame for them to complete. Not only are they very helpful I just bet you would have a lot less complaints as they learn the new skills.
    nrsang97 and madwife2002 like this.
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    I like that idea ilivivt thank you
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    I agree that asking for help, is the best way to get a co-worker who doesn't WANT to help, to help However, if you can't tell by looking your co-worker is drowning, your assessment skills need honing.
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    If one nurse is sitting down doing nothing and the other is running around like a fool, I don't think you need
    to be a mind reader to see that they are busy and could probably use some help.
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    It sometimes seems though that it is always the same nurse or two that always is running around asking for help. I personally get tired of constantly having to help that nurse complete her work when I have the same amount or more work to do on my patients. I seem to be able to do my work why can't they,. And at that point why should I help them anymore. It just enables the bad work habits.
    anotherone and nrsang97 like this.
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    Quote from Kyrshamarks
    It sometimes seems though that it is always the same nurse or two that always is running around asking for help. I personally get tired of constantly having to help that nurse complete her work when I have the same amount or more work to do on my patients. I seem to be able to do my work why can't they,. And at that point why should I help them anymore. It just enables the bad work habits.
    I was just about to say this. Also there is the nurse who constantly runs around like a chicken with her head cut off, and when offered help she refuses. She then proceeds to tell everyone that no one would help her at all.
    NutmeggeRN and kindgo like this.
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    my one nursing instructor (who has in the past managed an ICU and also the entire trauma department) has a rule - if a person comes in to complain about something that person has to have 2 solutions to said issue...as for the solutions she has 3 rules...can't be illegal, can't be immoral and can't bust the budget...she found that the department ran much smoother, and she had really good employees when she imparted these rules...
    Ir15hd4nc3r_RN and CrufflerJJ like this.
  12. 7
    Quote from Kyrshamarks
    And at that point why should I help them anymore. It just enables the bad work habits.
    You should help because it's not about how you work or how they work, it's about moving your patient forward on the timeline to recovery. Your patient is whoever you are able to help while you are working, not necessarily just who you are assigned to. Nurses are still the most trusted professionals ... the "not my patient, not my job" undermines that trust. Recognize the need for help, help the other nurse for the sake of the patient and then, after the work is done pull the other nurse aside and help them get better so their won't be a next time.


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