Bullying in nursing

Nurses General Nursing

Published

  • by garro
    Specializes in General surgical/ trauma/ agency nursing.

There sometimes seems to be a lot of bullying in nursing or maybe that is just my experience. I do agency back in Ireland and many of the nurses there complain about it in certain hospitals; it seems to be 'old-school' nurses doing most of the bullying. Here is a short article I've written about it;

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1997858/bullying_in_nursing.html?cat=5

Is bullying a common problem everywhere in nursing?

Do you think my recommendations to tackle it would be effective?

I think that there is a problem defining exactly what bullying is.

Specializes in Peds Hem, Onc, Med/Surg.

I like the internet definition:

Bullying is the act of intentionally causing harm to others, through verbal harassment, physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion and includes behaviors and actions that are verbal, physical and/or anti-social, such as exclusion, gossip and non-verbal body language.

I don't deal with this alot because I am a loud person. When I first got on the floor it felt like everyone thought that they could push me around and talk about me but that got nipped in the bud quickly. Especially when I told one of the main ones that if she had something to say to say to my face. i think I scared people. LOL But I stand up to people. I don't care if you are a Dr or a CNA, if you push me I am going to push back and take a whack while I am at it. LOL

jk........maybe.

Specializes in M/S, MICU, CVICU, SICU, ER, Trauma, NICU.

If you exude self-confidence and a "you can't mess with me attitude--i.e assertive, NOT AGGRESSIVE--regardless of their position (CEO or MD or whatever) people will not mess with you. It's all in the mind, the posture, the voice, the language you use--take some classes on it.

garro

12 Posts

Specializes in General surgical/ trauma/ agency nursing.

Chicookie, you are scaring me! Only joking. Good for you. Bullies seem to seek out the quite ones.

Specializes in Peds Hem, Onc, Med/Surg.

:D I scare a lot of people but I am just like Plankton: 1% evil, 99% hot gas. :D

and I have found out that if you usually stand up for yourself then most people back off and there is nothing more to it. :D

nerdtonurse?, BSN, RN

1 Article; 2,043 Posts

Specializes in ICU, Telemetry.

How to handle a bully? Bring a gun to a knife fight. No, not real weapons, but inside a bully is a desperately insecure person who is looking to make themselves feel better by making everyone else feel bad. So, you've got 2 options. Cave or fight. I had one girl who thought "nice" equaled "weak" -- and she tried to intimidate me. I got right in her face and told her if she wanted an intellectual fight about the subject, she was missing a weapon. Make them look like a fool, and they'll hunt softer prey.

I had one guy who thought he could hide behind emails, and was well known for evicerating people in emails -- I asked him a two sentence question about a version of software he'd picked (which wasn't going to work with pretty much ANYTHING else we had) and he sent back a 2 page novel to everybody who's name he could spell about how I didn't know what I was talking about. I sent back an email with the link to the vendor site detailing why what he wanted wouldn't work, then went to his cube. I didn't knock, just marched right in, put my hand on the desk and looked down into his face and said, "Evidently, you and I have a problem. Do you want to discuss it with me, or with me and my boss, because I'm NOT putting up with your high school BS. Do you read me?" He flustered and stammered and didn't know what to do. I never had another problem with him.

I was bullied in elementary school, and I learned the only thing that stops them is taking the fun out of them picking on you. Make it cost them -- cost their egos, like the coworkers snickering at the email bully when I contronted him face on -- and they go find someone else. They will snip about you, but they snip about everyone, so who cares.

JVRB4

43 Posts

Specializes in med surg.

I am generally very shy and quiet. Don't trust my own judgement in most nursing situations either so I know what it is like to feel intimidated. I am trying to work on my self confidence and my ability to stand up for myself. Amazing how difficult that can be for some of us. It has been my experience that their are some seasoned nurses who do seem to "eat their young". Maybe it's there way of getting rid of the weak ones and making the rest stronger so they can handle themselves against the not so nice Dr's, pts, and familiy members. Seems like maybe they could come up with a better way. I think some who have the ability to become GREAT nurses once they become comfortable in that skin are scared out of the field before they have the chance to become more confident. What a shame and waste of talent and compassion.

"I had one girl who thought "nice" equaled "weak" -- and she tried to intimidate me. I got right in her face and told her if she wanted an intellectual fight about the subject, she was missing a weapon". TOO FUNNY, I love this one I hope I remember this one.

Specializes in ICU.

Wrote this up for another thread, but I think it's worth repeating...

People who bully and abuse do so out of fear.

Fear of losing their job.

Fear of losing the respect of colleagues, subordinates, and/or superiors.

Fear of being shown to have inadequacies (so they go out of their way to point out the inadequacies in others).

The only way to overcome fear is to face it.

Bullies and abusers don't want to face their fears head on because deep down, they're cowards - which is why they allow their fears to rule their lives and their interactions with others in the first place.

Bullies and abusers build webs of deception, emotional blackmail, and fear around them to protect themselves from being discovered. They cope by extinguishing anyone who might, by presence and/or ability, challenge the status quo and alter the perceptions of the people caught in a bully or abuser's web.

Often times the indicator of what a bully finds threatening is that which you are and he/she is not. The fear is that others will also recognize the contrast. So to defend their fears, they do the work of taking what makes you unique and publicly downplaying it, twisting it, and/or bastardizing it, so that if and when people realize a contrast exists, they will have been encouraged to see those differences as negative, gross, weak, unimportant, immature, pushy, know-it-all....The list of ways they can spin your most positive attributes is as long as their imaginations allow. It doesn't matter what you are, just that you are different. Bullies and abusers see their fears reflected by people who shine brightly, walk tall, show compassion - this list is also long and continuously growing. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. The one unifying factor, is fear.

Always remember that a bully is only as strong as the web of deception and fear he/she creates. When the threads are broken and a bully is left to fight his/her own battles, their fear will surface.

The only method I've found to be successful so far in dealing with bullies and abusers is to think three steps ahead.

I would recommend to ANYONE who is considering nursing as a career, read up on the psychology behind bullying and the common tactics of bullies. There are some excellent websites that discuss different abusive "profiles" and how to recognize and combat them. This is something that may or may not be taught in your nursing programs. In case it isn't (most likely not), do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with the climate you could be walking into. Don't walk blindly. Do not trust that it will be eutopic.

Specializes in Emergency Medicine.

triquee -

terrific points, all. but i'm afraid you missed a couple. some bullies are not the least bit afraid. they treat people that way because they enjoy it. it's fun & it's sport.

and, in the case of far too many physicians, some bullies are sociopaths whose victims aren't real people - just props on their stage.

and the maddening fact is, neither their peers, nor hospital administration, have the intestinal fortitude to slam the door on this miscreants. so they do an enormous amount of damage in their professional & private lives. the medical maniacs surrounding us are an exasperating sight to behold.

but this week in my neighborhood alone, 7 different bully physicians were sentenced to prison. and around here we take that as a good sign.

Specializes in ICU.

I have yet to meet a bully who wasn't - despite all bravado and appearances, beneath all secondary psychoses, at their very core - afraid of at least one of three things:

Losing the status quo.

Being discovered for what they are.

Losing the respect and esteem of others.

Even a bully who bullies for sport knows that he/she can only play the game if the people around him/her allow it.

chosen09

2 Posts

Specializes in Med Surg and ICU-Stepdown.
Wrote this up for another thread, but I think it's worth repeating...

People who bully and abuse do so out of fear.

Fear of losing their job.

Fear of losing the respect of colleagues, subordinates, and/or superiors.

Fear of being shown to have inadequacies (so they go out of their way to point out the inadequacies in others).

The only way to overcome fear is to face it.

Bullies and abusers don't want to face their fears head on because deep down, they're cowards - which is why they allow their fears to rule their lives and their interactions with others in the first place.

Bullies and abusers build webs of deception, emotional blackmail, and fear around them to protect themselves from being discovered. They cope by extinguishing anyone who might, by presence and/or ability, challenge the status quo and alter the perceptions of the people caught in a bully or abuser's web.

Often times the indicator of what a bully finds threatening is that which you are and he/she is not. The fear is that others will also recognize the contrast. So to defend their fears, they do the work of taking what makes you unique and publicly downplaying it, twisting it, and/or bastardizing it, so that if and when people realize a contrast exists, they will have been encouraged to see those differences as negative, gross, weak, unimportant, immature, pushy, know-it-all....The list of ways they can spin your most positive attributes is as long as their imaginations allow. It doesn't matter what you are, just that you are different. Bullies and abusers see their fears reflected by people who shine brightly, walk tall, show compassion - this list is also long and continuously growing. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. The one unifying factor, is fear.

Always remember that a bully is only as strong as the web of deception and fear he/she creates. When the threads are broken and a bully is left to fight his/her own battles, their fear will surface.

The only method I've found to be successful so far in dealing with bullies and abusers is to think three steps ahead.

I would recommend to ANYONE who is considering nursing as a career, read up on the psychology behind bullying and the common tactics of bullies. There are some excellent websites that discuss different abusive "profiles" and how to recognize and combat them. This is something that may or may not be taught in your nursing programs. In case it isn't (most likely not), do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with the climate you could be walking into. Don't walk blindly. Do not trust that it will be eutopic.

Your post is so true!!! I am a PCT as well as a full time BS-Nursing student who has encountered my "Bully" in the form of an instructor, go figure!! Yes, I am AA, quiet, very compassionate, and don't like confrontational situations of which I believe my instructor chose to single me out of the group. Thanks again for your post and encouragement to increase my confidence in the skills I learned as well as to recognize others for who, or what, they really are. Be Blessed.

Blove86

303 Posts

Specializes in None.

I find taking no mess, willing to tell "some" off, and generally having a no-nonesense face makes a world of difference

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