Difficult people


I am in a very strange situation right now. I am working in a small facility, and I have been working there for a little while now. Almost all of my co workers are pleasant, but there is one who is just terrible, she is so critical of everyone else, talks about everything she does as if she is a martyer, talks terribly other staff, speaks to people she considers "beneath" her (housekeeping staff surgical tech and admin assistant) so disrespectfully it makes me cringe and, overall, causes everyone to be extremely uncomfortable in this small working situation. She constantly references "other places she has worked." I am at a loss for how to deal with this person. The director just eats up everything this woman tells her, I also recently found out that she was fired from a surgery center she worked at about 18 months ago. I am at a loss for how to deal with this situation and what to do as I usually can crack the hardest of people, but she is very unique. Any books to read, techniques or suggestions would be appreciated.

JustBeachyNurse, LPN

1 Article; 13,952 Posts

Specializes in Complex pedi to LTC/SA & now a manager. Has 13 years experience.

Are you her supervisor or is this a same level coworker? You can't change people or their attitudes. You can only change you and the way you react.

SoldierNurse22, BSN, RN

13 Articles; 2,058 Posts

What JustBeachy said. There are no "techniques" to "crack" people. Not everyone you meet will like you, and you have to get to a place where you're OK with that and able to work with them professionally.


1 Article; 193 Posts

I am not interested in her "liking" me. I need to effectivly shut her down. Which is why I am asking for techniques or books.


392 Posts

Specializes in Oncology, Rehab, Public Health, Med Surg.

Agree with advice above No "cracking" needed ; prior work history totally her business. Karmas a ***** and it all catches up eventually. Just dont be in the way when karma catches up wit her, lol

Specializes in MICU, SICU, CICU. Has 24 years experience.

I worked in PACU with a nurse like this. The directors loved her. She was charming and evil. She did the schedule, never had on call, came in late and left early almost every day. Sound familiar?

The lies and vicious gossip made me cringe. She destroyed a few reputations and careers. She particularly picked on the housekeeping staff. She lived to fight with and dominate others and the whole crew went along with it because they were afraid for their jobs. I think this is the definition of a sociopath. Her ex was in jail for embezzlement or something.

To make a long story short, I stood up for myself and became the target of her rage and the management believed her. I resigned. I really loved that job, I had great relationships with the OR team surgeons and anesthesiologists.

This PACU played fast and loose with ASPAN standards. Their version of level one recovery from anesthesia was totally unsafe. Their were major incidents, nothing changed.

Every PACU seems to have one of these self appointed charge nurse women who makes a nice job into a hornet's nest. Oddly, they put her in charge of their mandatory anti-bullying education. After I resigned the staff had a mandatory meeting and identified her as the main source of conflict and the reason that no one would work there.

If I could go back in time, I would have left after the first month of working in that PACU and found a more congenial work environment. I could have stayed in that job forever except for her. I enjoyed it that much.

You will not be treated fairly in a unit with weak management. IF YOU CONFRONT THIS PERSON ALONE YOU WILL BE TARGETED I was left alone in PACU with three patients, two of which needed ICU care. Some people thrive on making others miserable. This kind of person will delight in sabotaging you any way that she can just because she can. Especially if you are in a non union facility. After six months of positive performance evals she wrote one that was a huge pack of lies. They believed her. It is best to leave.

If you have absolutely no other options, walk away when the nasty gossip and complaining starts. Go help in the back, in ASU or discharge, ask the pread missions nurse if she needs help, get a drink, make up stretchers, fill the blanket warmer etc. Do not listen or participate. Smile, talk to her only about the weather, the red sox, and the schedule for the day, keep on trucking.

There is a book called The Sociopath next Door, written by a psychologist, which you might find helpful, at least in terms of maintaining your own sanity. It addresses the spectrum of people who are born without a conscience.


1 Article; 193 Posts

Icurnmaggie, thank you. I am seriously thinking of going back to my main site and requesting to transfer back. I really wanted this to work and I have been with this organization for a long time vs her one year. I have had a few difficult co workers, but with listening and validation I have been able to figure people out. This woman is indescriable. She is mean, says horrible things about people but claims to be religious. I stay away right now. I feel like she could have me fired if I do something wrong.

Specializes in MICU, SICU, CICU. Has 24 years experience.

This is probably your best course of action. She has a mental disorder. The problem is way too big for you to take on by yourself.

These people will go to any lengths to exact revenge on others. Be extremely careful with documenting and wasting controlled substances.

When asked why just say it wasn't for me. I do not like the buzzwords like toxic and bullying unit. But they do exist. The old adage about the nurse who identifies a problem is labeled a problem applies to these situations.

Management will say that is just a matter of perception and sweep it under the rug. They know she is the problem. They just don't care.

Just get out unscathed.


1 Article; 193 Posts

Luckily I do not handle narcs, she usually restoks the pixis and so far I have declined to refill it for just this reason. Still trying to figure out what to do.


91 Posts

Specializes in OR.

Any updates on how your work situation is coming along?