Burned Bridges

Nurses Relations


Hello Everyone!

Ok. I going to put myself "out there" with a problem that I have and I'm sure I'm going to be harshly judged for what I'm about to post; however, I'm doing this because I honestly need some help but most importantly for me, I want the help. I have had 7 different jobs in 7 years consecutively. Yes you read it right; 7 jobs in 7 years. Two of them have been worked simultaneously with two other jobs. Some I have quit and some I have been terminated; with the jobs that I have quit, I kind of felt like "the writing was on the wall" so I quit before I can be terminated. I have been told that I do really great work and that I am a really good nurse. On the flip side, I have been told by my superiors that I can be mean and have a bad attitude (not with my patients, their families or physicians). It usually takes my managers by surprise (so I've been told) when I react to certain situations. My reactions are always related to disrespect, suttle bullying by superiors, and attempts to publicly reprimand me in the presence of my coworkers. In all fairness, I have never been nor have I ever felt that I was "singled out." More often than not, their behavior is widely known and people just "accept" how they are. For me, I can't and I don't tolerate it; and of course, it hurts me in the long run. I truly practice "treat people the way you want to be treated." I never intentionally mistreat anyone "above" or "below" me; it's just not who I am. However, when a situation occurs and its done and over with, I personally feel like I have a insight to the type of person they are and I do all I can to avoid being their presence when possible because I know how being around them makes me feel and I don't want their negativity around me. I have stopped working days and have changed to weekend nights (I found I love nights) just to avoid the foolishness. It causes me to have anxiety about going to work and when I'm there, I do all I can to make sure everything is done "perfectly"; and sometimes I go above and beyond because I know that the buck has been passed all week and by the time I make it to work, if I don't do whatever has been passed on all week, I'll be the one who gets the call 1 hour after my shift along with a verbal reprimand and write up to accompany it.

In the grand scheme of things, my changing jobs so much is hurting me. My resume is a mess with regard to my work experience. When I look at it, I feel ashamed instead of proud. The only highlights to my resume are the many jobs I've had in such a "short" period of time which is a red flag for prospective employers. I can't take a job off of my resume because, it will cause "gaps" in my employment. When I do get called for an interview, I get ridiculously nervous and insecure when the interviewer is looking at my resume and questioning me about "why" I left said employers. I always keep it respectful, never bad mouth previous employers, and try to explain as brief as possible as to why employment ended. Needless to say, I don't interview well, even though I am qualified for the position I'm interviewing for. I have never had an interview where I felt like I "knocked it out the park."; they just go "ok." I have sometimes wondered why a facility would call me for an interview even though they've looked over my resume before they called me to schedule an interview with me. So more often than not, I end up working at not so good facilities that are "desperate" for nurses; which is where a lot of workplace drama occurs. Basically, I jump from the frying pan straight into the fire.....repeatedly.

I was told last night that "I have to learn how to play the game" and when I do, I will be fine. I don't play games with people personally or professionally because its childish. At this point, I don't know what to do anymore; which is the reason I have chosen to come to the nursing community for insight and support.

allnurses Guide

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

6,840 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

What is childish is thinking you can react/act however you want whenever you want and then expect people to consider that the mature response due to a self inflated idea that you are just not letting people "push you around".

"Playing the game" is simply a coined phrase that references acceptable behavior in the workplace. It recognizes there is such a thing as good timing, ability to interpret variables in people's responses, giving people the same allowances you yourself would wish for and being astute enough to recognize that different people perceive things different ways and that not every perceived slight needs to be remedied or made into an issue. It also incorporates an understanding that good impressions, positive energy and getting along are among the MOST important things someone can bring to a team atmosphere. You can feel noble for having a sense of not letting people push you around and be unemployed, or you can recognize that the problem here is unlikely to be allllllllllll these other jobs and allllllllllllll these other people, that the common denominator here is YOU. If you have a short fuse and are snarky and snappish, why would anyone want to work with that or treat you well?

Until you stay somewhere long enough to prove you are a good investment, none of the better facilities are going to consider you. You have a very obvious pattern on your resume of job hopping and when they investigate as to why, there is a common theme - you are hard to get along with. It almost doesn't matter that you feel goaded into it by your perception of bad behavior on the part of other people. When there are this many jobs with this many stories of the exact same scenario, it is blaringly obvious (or at least LOOKS blaringly obvious, even in your own accounting) that the problem here is you.

Learn to let things go. That is my advice. Develop a rational scale in which you weigh out whether or not the potential downside of making an issue out of something is further down than the upside of having your say (ie: losing your job. Again.). Ask yourself "What is the goal here?" before you open your mouth (or roll your eyes or huff or whatever your patterns of responses may be). Get in a job and stay there for two years, preferably three, to help make up for your job hopping for the last seven. Not every sour expression or perceived slight needs to be handled with a nuclear bomb response. Sometimes the best way to get a message across can be the whisper of your silence and knowing silence can hold the same weight, if not more, than an overdramatic, openly hostile reaction. And then, when your temper flare has cooled off, utilize that nursing skill of self assessment and determine whether whatever got your fur ruffled has any merit and either put it into action or disregard it as appropriate. Part of determining whether it has merit does not only apply to your own impression - it bears noting that the merit of it can largely be determined by what is important to your employer and team, not just appropriate to you.

Specializes in Critical Care, Education.

OP seems to be very sincere in her recognition of problem behavior and the need to change. Other than being old, and a keen observer of human nature, I want to clearly state -- I am NOT qualified to be anyone's life coach.

I sense a real disconnect here. OP says: "I have been told by my superiors that I can be mean and have a bad attitude ..... It usually takes my managers by surprise ... when I react to certain situations"

And then goes on to say "I truly practice 'treat people the way you want to be treated'. I never intentionally mistreat anyone 'above' or 'below' me; it's just not who I am"

So - looks like a consistent destructive behavioral pattern - would seem to indicate a lack of impulse control & anger management? If so, counseling may be in order. It's hard for nurses to seek help because we are supposed to be the helpers but sometimes it's an absolute necessity. I have a close relative who has very successfully dealt with this issue. Went from 'unable to keep a job' to going on 10 years of employment at the same company.

brown eyed girl

407 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Sub Acute Rehab.

I wasn't implying or attempting to imply that I was without fault for the trail of jobs that I have left behind me. Yes, only I can control how I react to each individual situation. I get that the common denominator is me and my reactions. What I was trying to get help with is seeing situations from a different perspective other than my own and how I really can turn my situation around.

It is also childish thinking for managers to believe that they can treat their subordinates in any manner that they choose. It is true that I have been bullied by my superiors; whether you or anyone believes that is solely your choice. My post isn't about them, it's about me and what I'm trying to learn or need to learn from others on how to really handle myself and various situations before I get too upset that continues a negative cycle for me. That's why I came here to speak my truth. I do not, nor have I ever believed that I can/could act or react any way I choose at any given time; to make a statement like that comes across as more judgmental than as constructive criticism. By the way, it was hurtful.

allnurses Guide

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

6,840 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

You are kind of proving your own point here. Did you read my entire post? I apologize if it seems hurtful. You came here soliciting open advice and received it. It obviously was not what you wanted to hear.

My advice for handling yourself is this:

Stop focusing on how the others are behaving. Identify and then practice focusing on your own behavior. The only reaction you have any control over is your own. It doesn't matter if they are being childish. It matters if you are though. Not because they are more important, but because at the end of the day it is only your own behavior and its consequences you will be liable for. You didn't lose your jobs because of your managers' behaviors. You lost them because of your own.

Something I have found helpful for me has been to ask myself what the goal is in my response or lack thereof. If blowing off steam seems by inner reflection to be my main goal, I take measures to ensure I don't do that, including keeping quiet, walking away, distracting myself, etc. If my goal seems to be "I don't want them to think it is acceptable to treat me that way", I follow that thought up with whether or not that person's treatment of me has any bearing on my life as a whole. Most of the time it doesn't. This then makes not responding in a hostile fashion easier.

I have also found practicing meditation, yoga and hanging out more with my friends, especially my nurse friends (laughter therapy) all help manage my overall stress reactions by putting my baseline stress at a better level. In other words, my boiling point doesn't hit quite so fast and hard.

Lastly, I try to see the other person through a lens of compassion. It can be incredibly difficult, but nothing takes the winds out of someone's sails, including our own, like being empathetic. I am not the only one with problems that make me blow up. If I extend that grace to someone else, I find more often it is extended back when it really counts.

I hope you can get a handle on it. It is something many struggle with.

People have different ways of communicating and you will never be spoken to in an "ideal" manner by every individual you interact with. Your feelings about how you're spoken to are irrelevant. Focus on the messages you're being given, not how they make you feel.

brown eyed girl

407 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Sub Acute Rehab.
People have different ways of communicating and you will never be spoken to in an "ideal" manner by every individual you interact with. Your feelings about how you're spoken to are irrelevant. Focus on the messages you're being given, not how they make you feel.
Thank you so much. Point well taken! :up:
Specializes in Critical Care, Med-Surg, Psych, Geri, LTC, Tele,.

I think the original poster is making an important observation. I interpret her concern to be related to the subject of bullying. Some nurse managers do degrade, yell and insult the subordinates, as well as lie.

Although I know that part of being an adult in the work place means playing politics, I'm not sure I agree that it's good to allow that type of behavior to continue.

Nursing is an atmosphere in which tattling is looked down upon. (I think they usually call it not following the chain of command)

I don't think it's inappropriate to let a supervisor know that you aren't at work to be demeaned....

Sometimes supervisors ask you to do things that aren't ethical/right/legal. Speaking up against these behaviors with the person directly involved shouldn't be frowned upon...at least I think it shouldn't be.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

176 Articles; 27,610 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

For starters, I once had a major problem with interpersonal skills and ended up burning bridges with people at the workplace throughout my working career (from age 16 onward). I didn't realize what was wrong until I was approaching the age of 30.

My best friend, who has worked with me at several facilities, stated about five years ago, "Coworkers like me because I know how to play the game. I have a way of stroking people's feelings and getting them to like me. I pretend to enjoy their company and give compliments, even though the person receiving the compliment might stink or wear ugly clothes. When people have the choice between a phony person and a truthful person, they will almost always pick fake because most people can't handle the truth. I'm a fake and you're the real deal. People cannot handle the real deal, which is why people don't like you as much."

I responded, "That sounds like kissing ass. I won't stoop to that level, even if it means I don't build good workplace relationships like you." My friend just shrugged and said, "It is what it is!"

To the OP: my problems at work disappeared almost overnight once I started playing the game. Playing the game involves a repertoire of interpersonal skills, professionalism, social skills, likeability and charm. You must learn to play the game. You need to present a certain image of yourself while in the workplace and, unfortunately, pretend to enjoy the company of coworkers that you might personally dislike.

My reactions are always related to disrespect, suttle bullying by superiors, and attempts to publicly reprimand me in the presence of my coworkers.

Superiors stopped messing with me once I sweetly started telling them, "Thank you for all that you do!" Seriously, many of your problems will start to disappear if you pretend to appreciate these people, even if they might be horrible managers. You will never, NEVER, never get anywhere by confronting a superior or superordinate about disrespecting you. You will not win their game, so learn to play it.

I don't think it's inappropriate to let a supervisor know that you aren't at work to be demeaned....
However, there's a delicate way in which you need to walk the political tightrope. If you lack the likeability factor and rub your superiors the wrong way, your behind is toast and you will forever be a target. Learn to play the game!

Good luck to you.


56 Posts

Count to ten in your head...slowly. Then do it again. I agree with the above that none of us ever know what is going on in the lives of those that "snap" at us or act in a less than desirable way. We've all been there- we just lost a friend to illness, we are going through relationship difficulties, we have teenagers that are making want to pull our hair out, we just got reamed out by a physician ...the list goes on and on. Life happens and we can carry that around in our heads and our hearts. Some are better than others at not bringing that into the workplace. Some do bring it into the workplace knowingly or unknowingly and take it out on those around them. I am not excusing bad behavior,but it really does help if you can try to think "She isn't being very nice today, I wonder what's going on in her life. Must not be great if she's acting like that". It takes the "personal" out of the negative interaction. You can only be responsible for your actions and attitude. If you know that your actions and attitude are above board,genuine and positive in all of your interactions, than you don't need to react to the negative stuff. There is no need to defend yourself or call someone out on their behavior.I understand the feeling of wanting to say what comes to mind, to react. But it can hurt you in the long run, not them.You've got to find that balance of knowing when to let things roll off your back and knowing when to speak up in a professional , nonconfrontational manner. Don't worry about others'- karma. What comes around goes around. You just concentrate on being the best nurse, the best person you can be.

Specializes in Critical Care, Med-Surg, Psych, Geri, LTC, Tele,.

Thanks so much commuter!!!!!!!!! I'm going to print that and remember it!!! That advice was sound and practical.

casi, ASN, RN

2,063 Posts

Specializes in LTC.

It sounds like you have a really hard time with criticism. One of the biggest things you need to do is learn to step back and not take offense to others comments and actions. You can't control what they do, but you can control you. I'll admit it's hard to not snap at co-workers at times, some are very abrasive. If someone if does something that you feel is disrespectful or is reprimanding you in front of co-workers stay calm, ask if you can go to a private place, then calmly state, "please don't reprimand me in front of co-workers." or, "I felt that the way you approached me was very disrespectful." Try to be the bigger person in the situation.

I would also suggest looking into counseling.

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