Published Feb 6, 2014
Recently, I was informed by fellow coworkers that a senior nurse did not particularly care for me. I was completely oblivious to this, mainly because she and I had never had any negative interactions and she had always been polite and nice...to my face at least. As a new nursing graduate I had just finished my preceptorship, and was still perfecting my skills and admittedly still very nervous. I was told that she had made very rude comments about me and my competency as a nurse. Some of these comments included her saying things like, "I was a dangerous nurse, and that I was gonna kill someone one day." Hearing her comments really stung, and bothered me tremendously. What she said was so hurtful, that even I questioned my abilities. I never approached her about this issue, and instead decided to learn from the situation, and reevaluate my performance personally and strengthen any weaknesses that I may have had. However, I know that even though I am still new and learning, every time I provide patient care I always make safety a priority. For some reason, I never really got over her hurtful words. Lately, I have noticed her saying the same things about another new nurse, and I immediately felt the sting of her hateful behavior. How should I deal with this situation? Should I confront her about how her remarks are not constructive and hurtful?
Personally, coming from someone who has also dealt with coworkers and their rather vocal opinions of me.... My opinion is that you just move forward and don't confront her. It's much like the bullies in school, the response is fuel to their fire. Maintain your professionalism, and move forward taking a lesson from it. As nurses, we are responsible for our own actions and practice, so I don't pay any mind to how anyone else feels about my decisions unless I ask them. :) you'll learn to ignore it... It makes work life much easier. These people don't pay our bills! "Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
NOT ONLY must you ignore them, but you must not let her comments stimulate any kind of emotional response. Your first year will be rough, accept it and move on. Bully nurses target newbies because newbies are easy prey. Smile and treat her as if you could never believe that she would say anything about you. That will make her bored of you, and eventually, she will find someone else to pick on. The very worst thing you can do is anything that will provoke her!
The comments that she made had nothing to do with you. She made those comments out her own insecurities. She saw you as up and coming with something going on. That frightens a bully, so they lash out.
She is not someone worth worrying about, to make friends with or to give your sympathy to. The chances are really high that she has done this with many people before and will continue long after her latest target, as her weakness knows no bounds.
I know this sounds cold, but think how she has made you feel.
You can move past this and so can her next target by imagining her holding up her hand to her forehead in the symbol of L for Loser every time that you see her. In other words Move on.
People like that, for me, serve as a poignant reminder of who I don't want to become.
I wouldn't bother confronting her as it won't accomplish anything positive. Just strive to be the kind of person you want to be around, and maybe keep an eye on those newbies getting bashed by her. You remember how much it stung when it was you - so be there for them. It is a lot easier to weather nastiness from one person if you feel like someone else has your back! :)
Pangea Reunited, ASN, RN
We all have fleeting thoughts, and sometimes they escape through our mouths. To keep this in perspective, think about every bad thing you've ever said about anyone (in confidence). Would you want them to hear it? Did you really mean it? Has your opinion changed since then? Were you being flippant or humorous or maybe even just killing time?
PS: Be careful what you say in front of these "informative" coworkers. They sound like they like to stir things up.
Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent".
The deepest wounds I have suffered professionally have been at the hands of "friends" placing a knife squarely in by back.
Ignore it and move on. Clearly this person feels very poorly about herself is she must make others feel bad to feel better herself.....pathetic really. You will see this in very insecure individuals.
heron, ASN, RN
Interesting that your co-worker was so helpful as to inform you of the negative comments made by that senior nurse. It makes me wonder about the level of drama and the so-helpful co-worker's role in stirring the pot.
I hope you can find a way to avoid becoming this week's break-room entertainment.
My advice: avoid that chummy co-worker, keep it civil and do your job the best you can. If you feel you need to address the senior nurse's concerns, do so with her directly and by-pass the middleman (and whatever private agenda she's pursuing).
But this isn't always true. Sometimes we have a co-worker who really IS going to kill someone. I have one right now and what's worse is I was her preceptor. I wanted to like her, I really did. I wanted her to succeed and be a great nurse. I tried EVERYTHING to make this work. We switched preceptors. Still bad. The problem is she is completely unteachable. If she asks a question she'll argue with you for 15 minutes why the answer you gave her is wrong. She'll do things she has never done before without asking for assistance and then when she screws it up blames us because she's "new"(even though we had no idea she was doing it). She doesn't know what she doesn't know. She cannot retain information for longer than a minute and then accuses us of never giving her the info in the first place. She repeatedly e-mails treatment schedules to the wrong patients, draws the wrong tubes for labs or doesn't draw them at all, gives patients the wrong information, the wrong meds, the wrong everything. If you correct her she gets defensive. It's always everybody else's fault. I caught her checking my charting to see if it was done. MY charting! I informed her that this was the quickest way to have everyone hate her. Her response was since we are a "team" it was her responsibility to make sure everything was done properly. I suggested that as a nurse with over 2 decades of experience I didn't need her, a new grad, checking documentation on my patients whom she had no involvement with (HIPAA anyone). Her response " I find that the people who are most confident make the most mistakes". Excuse me?! This is her second job within her first 3 months of nursing. She was released from another internship for not being a good fit. After catching no less than 5 errors on her yesterday (and gently correcting them) I finally had it and contacted her nurse educator to let her know that indeed, this nurse was going to kill somebody. I am not pathetic nor did I feel better about myself for saying it. I felt terrible but something had to be said and apparently I wasn't the first to say it.
Am I saying the OP is just like this nurse? Absolutely not, but to paint everyone who makes a comment like this as being a pathetic, insecure individual isn't really helpful either.
Frankly, I think the OP would be better served to stay away from the pot-stirrers just as much as the other nurse. None of those people are good for her.
In my wise old years I finally figured out not to always believe what co-workers say about other co-workers. The co-worker you trust may turn out to be just another one that talks crap behind your back.
My advice is to concentrate on your job and don't listen to the background noise.
canoehead, BSN, RN
Stay away from your helpful co worker.
I'd mention to the more senior nurse that you value her opinion, but you had heard some rumours about what she had said about you. Ask her to give feedback to you personally, not others. She may not have said any of what you heard. If she did mention something she knows now that she was speaking to a gossip, and that you will be professionally assertive. After that one interaction, ignore any gossip you hear saying, "she wouldn't say that behind my back," whether you believe it's true or not. Ignore any feedback that isn't done professionally. You teach people how to treat you.
We all have fleeting thoughts, and sometimes they escape through our mouths. To keep this in perspective, think about every bad thing you've ever said about anyone (in confidence). Would you want them to hear it? Did you really mean it? Has your opinion changed since then? Were you being flippant or humorous or maybe even just killing time? PS: Be careful what you say in front of these "informative" coworkers. They sound like they like to stir things up.
This is very good advice, and the original question just makes me think how destructive gossip is. It's really hard to take a comment like that and look at yourself to see if it's got some merit, even if it doesn't, so I applaud the original poster.
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