Burned Bridges

Nurses Relations

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Ruby Vee, BSN

17 Articles; 14,027 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

You've been repeatedly told by superiors that you are mean and have a bad attitude, you react poorly to certain situations, and you can't get along with others. Rather than just not letting people push you around, it's possible that YOU are the bully.

You don't have to learn to "play the game." But it's likely that if you don't, nothing will change. You still won't get along with others, you'll still react poorly to certain situations, and you'll be perceived (probably correctly) as a mean person with a bad attitude. You've gotten some great advice here. Take it.

brown eyed girl

407 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Sub Acute Rehab.
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.

Exactly. Thank you.

brown eyed girl

407 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Sub Acute Rehab.
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.

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.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.

Thank you soooooo much! This post speaks to me and my situation! I don't think you understand how much it does! THANK YOU FOR THE ADVICE! IT WILL BE PUT TO USE FOREVER! LOL!:yes:

brown eyed girl

407 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Sub Acute Rehab.
thanks so much commuter!!!!!!!!! I'm going to print that and remember it!!! That advice was sound and practical.

that makes two of us!;)

brown eyed girl

407 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Sub Acute Rehab.
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.

I'm not really sure I have a problem with criticism as much as I have a problem with criticism that doesn't really come from a good place for my personal and professional development from the sender. You know what I mean? It's like, you can feel the person doesn't really care for you or your personality and they just so happen to be your superior so they can "get off" their personal feelings about you but do it under the guise of DON/ADON/UNIT MANAGER/STAFF DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR. I AGREE WITH YOU that I need to learn how to step back from various situations and NOT TAKE THINGS SO PERSONAL. To be honest, I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT; when someone is acting aggressively towards me, I automatically believe that they mean to do so and, no, they are not sorry for it. I also agree that I have to learn how to be the bigger person; it's very, very, very hard when you're in the "moment." LOL! I believe it will come....IT HAS TO! I also agree that talking to someone is a good idea for me to try as well. THANK YOU SOO MUCH FOR YOUR ADVICE!:)

brown eyed girl

407 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Sub Acute Rehab.
You've been repeatedly told by superiors that you are mean and have a bad attitude, you react poorly to certain situations, and you can't get along with others. Rather than just not letting people push you around, it's possible that YOU are the bully.

You don't have to learn to "play the game." But it's likely that if you don't, nothing will change. You still won't get along with others, you'll still react poorly to certain situations, and you'll be perceived (probably correctly) as a mean person with a bad attitude. You've gotten some great advice here. Take it.

Ruby Vee let me say this first because I don't want this response to come across as aggressive, defensive, or argumentative; and if it does, let me apologize to you upfront because it isn't meant to be that way. I'm confused as to how you came to the conclusion that I am a bully or might be a bully; where in my post did you get that impression? I'm just asking. I've only been referred to as "mean" or having a "bad attitude" after I didn't respond in the way they thought I would. As for not getting along well with others is simply not true. I have always had a great working relationship with my co-workers whom I work the floor with whether we work the same shift, I relieve them or vice versa; we work together as a team making sure our assignment and floor runs like a well oiled machine. If any of my co-workers didn't care for me, they hid it very well and maybe they know "how to play the game", and I'm cool with that; maybe I could learn a thing or two from them. To say that it's "probably correct" that I'm mean with a bad attitude is very judgmental of you and is not conducive to my personal growth as a professional nurse or as an individual; and it is not "constructive criticism," it's a personal attack. I thank you anyway for your post!:)

brown eyed girl

407 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Sub Acute Rehab.
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.

This is SO TRUE! You never really know what's going on in the personal lives of others including your superiors or subordinates! I have had many random conversations over the years about the possibility of "them" having no so great home lives and "they" come to work and take it out on the people who are "defenseless (subordinates)." I have personally been there with regard to having a period in my life where my home life wasn't so great; and just maybe, that contributed to my "bad attitude" when a not so good situation arose. I will MOST DEFINITELY TAKE YOUR ADVICE about "taking the personal out of the negative interaction"; IVE NEVER THOUGHT OF IT THAT WAY! SERIOUSLY! This is why I came here to post my situation, for good advice like this! It allows me to look at the interactions differently; and by doing so, I can go to work with less anxiety or refrain from working nights (even though I love them) because I'm really just practicing "avoidance." THANK YOU SO MUCH! YOU HAVE BEEN A GREAT HELP TO ME!

klone, MSN, RN

14,785 Posts

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership.

Why do you think you've been fired from so many jobs?

brown eyed girl

407 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Sub Acute Rehab.
Why do you think you've been fired from so many jobs?

I have believe that once the negative interaction occurs and my inability to really let a situation go because I have taken the situation so personal (whether I was right or wrong to do so), contributes to my demise. I really become anxious and make sure that I dot all of my "I's" and cross all of my "T's" in an attempt to avoid being reprimanded and ultimately fired. I have had some crazy stuff happen to me like, being suspended for A WHOLE PAYPERIOD. REALLY. During that time, I think they were infuriated because I would not give up and move on (like anyone else would) and come back to work to do my job the best that I could.

brown eyed girl

407 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Sub Acute Rehab.

I still don't know what to do about my resume and interview situation so that I can be successful in receiving a call back and ultimately get hired on; whether its a "good" facility or not. Any advice?

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

102 Articles; 27,612 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.
It's like, you can feel the person doesn't really care for you or your personality and they just so happen to be your superior so they can "get off" their personal feelings about you but do it under the guise of DON/ADON/UNIT MANAGER/STAFF DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR.
Always remember that you will never, NEVER, never win by 'confronting' superiors for disrespecting you or to bring up some grievance where you feel you've been wronged by them.

And you know what? Some people can size up our personalities without you even realizing it. So if they think you'll bark like a bulldog when pushed into a corner, guess what? Some managers are going to push you into a corner verbally to see how you'll react, on purpose. DO NOT fuel the fire by becoming reactionary when backed into a corner by nurse managers. You will not win.

Your coworkers and managers need to feel valued, even if you truly do not value them. So I regularly talk to colleagues whom I dislike, but these people do not know I secretly can't stand them. I ask how their children and/or grandkids are doing. I pretend to be interested in the details of their out-of-state/out-of-country trips upon their return to work. And when I return from vacation, on occasion I'll pass out souvenirs because "I was thinking of you when I saw this!"

It took me many years to realize that we work with some pathetically lonely people who seek validation at the workplace because they don't receive it in their personal lives. So if you express relief that they arrived to work safely even though you're annoyed they straggled in 15 minutes late, you're validating their existence. If you thank your manager for all that she does for you, you're validating her existence even though she might be a sorry excuse for a manager.

Play the game. My workplace issues went away once I learned how to play.

OCNRN63, RN

5,978 Posts

Specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

I think this is a cycle you are going to continue to repeat until you get to the bottom of what causes you to be terminated/feel the need to quit before being terminated. It has nothing to do with polishing your resume or being a phony. I think the only way this will be resolved is through therapy. I'm not saying this to be glib, and it's not a joke. There is no way you are going to be successful at faking nicety.

If you have had multiple managers tell you that you are being perceived as mean, it's highly likely that staff have gone to the managers with complaints. While you may think your problems lie only with your supervisors, I would be willing to bet dollars to donuts that is not the case.

I think you would be more successful in an interview if you were able to say that you identified problematic behaviors and sought counseling for them. Otherwise, should you be lucky enough to get another job, it will only be a matter of time before you repeat the same behavior that caused you trouble in your other jobs, and you will find yourself unemployed once more.

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