Jump to content

Getting along with coworkers

Posted
nur14 nur14 (New) New

Has 6 years experience.

I had a problem with a nurse coworker. This coworker clearly has psychiatric issues and when she does not take her meds she is loud, obnoxious, rude, and annoying. I was training a new nurse and she kept interrupting and my patience ran thin. Long story short we both got hauled into the NM office because she walked in and asked how things were going and I had a disgusted look on my face. I was told I need to communicate to this nurse when I am too busy to help her. The nurse manager said my coworker was super sensitive and I have a strong personality? Don't know what strong personality means? By now this coworker is sobbing and I feel like a mean old ogre. I hugged her and told her I was not out to get her and she said it was her anxiety issues. I am trying to keep my distance from her, don't want to hurt her but don't want to be annoyed to death. I will keep trying, I am a work in progress. I must admit I don't always play nice in the sandbox, but I'm trying to play nice in the sandbox. Working with this nurse is a challenge but if I can learn to not lose my patience I will definitely be a better nurse and person.

Deep breath. Let it out. "I am sorry, but I am in the middle of orientating. Could you ask one of the other nurses, please?"

Then, maybe during shift report, before you all get out on the floor "I am orienting ______today, who is doing AWESOME, however, I need to concentrate my efforts on this today."

That the nurse in question has psych issues, is or is not taking meds.....whatever, not your business. Refer her to the charge nurse if your asking doesn't change her interruptions.

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

"This coworker clearly has psychiatric issues " Please expound..how do you know this?

Strong personality means you are the alpha dog. NM wants you to handle co-worker with kid gloves. You have no choice but to follow her direction. Start documenting inappropriate behavior.

As far as the sandbox?....make no judgements... play nice.

Edited by Been there,done that

nur14

Has 6 years experience.

I know this nurse has psychiatric issues because she talks about going to her psychiatrist all the time and taking her meds. She tells the other nurses that she has not taken her meds on certain days and they encourage her to do so. Thank you for clarifying what strong personality means, wasn't sure. I have no issue with psychiatric problems, I have several family members that have psych issues and take medication. I don't believe however in using psych problems as an excuse for bad behavior. I will document any further incidents of inappropriate behavior from this nurse. For the time being we are getting along fine. I am playing nice in the sandbox...:) I want to get along with my coworker, it makes the work environment so much more bearable. Thanks again for the suggestions.

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 40 years experience.

What you experienced is becoming more typical lately. Someone behaves inappropriately (for whatever reason) but you're supposed to tiptoe around them because they're delicate. "Strong personality" somehow becomes a negative trait and you're supposed to curb yours. This may be a function of the "weak personality" of the manager, but there are other factors at work. Since your coworker has broadcast her psych issues, it falls into the realm of ADA. This means her feelings supersede anyone else's and she can complain about discrimination. HR departments live in fear of this and pass that fear to managers.

ADA has a legitimate reason for being, but like anything, good policies get skewed and end up supporting unsupportable behaviour. Try to be quietly assertive with this person, and document everything. Keep a little notebook locked safely in your locker, or at home. It may come in handy if her behaviour ever causes a situation that needs to be reported to Risk Management or the BON.

Hang in there.

nur14

Has 6 years experience.

Thank you so much for the insightful comments. This difficult coworker tried to pick a fight with me today and I walked away. I feel very proud of myself that I am not letting my temper get the best of me anymore. I have started documenting all of this coworker's inappropriate behavior. I have no doubt she will try to get me in trouble in the future. She feels so bad about herself that she is trying to make me look bad in any way she can. She may be doing this unconsciously, not even aware she is doing it. But she is so quick to point out any mistake I make, if I put a document in the wrong place etc. She screws up constantly and I don't say anything to her or about her to anyone.

maxthecat

Has 27 years experience.

As a psychiatric nurse, of course I believe in giving people who struggle with their issues some leeway. All of us have some problem parts of our lives and personalities , whether they rise to the level of diagnosable issues or not, and we all need to be kind to each other. However, there is a point where a person's "issues" start to interfere with their effectiveness in a working environment and I believe your coworker has passed that point. When she first started talking to coworkers about her diagnosis and medications a saavy manager should have taken her aside and pointed out that this is inappropriate behavior in the workplace. This is not being "mean," this is giving guidance. Likewise, when she becomes loud and aggressive she should be be informed that she is acting inappropriately. "I know, but it's hard for me because I have (insert diagnosis)." "Yes, it is harder for you, but there are standards you must meet." This will come better from management than from a coworker.

Just because something is harder for someone (for whatever reason) does not mean they should get a free pass.

Having said this, it sounds like you are in an environment where management and coworkers are afraid to be a assertive with this person, so about all you can do is what you are doing and don't slip into immature behavior yourself.

I would really recommend being as nice as humanly possible to her while remaining assertive. We all have our own issues that we deal with and there aren't any free passes in life, or there shouldn't be. It really isn't fair that some people take advantage of their issues while others live in fear of telling people they have psych issues because they don't want to be treated differently. Really, your coworker is part of that problem. People who are more sensitive require more sugar coating than others, mental issues aside. You want to come out looking squeaky clean on this so do your best to be professional.

icuRNmaggie, BSN, RN

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

The Nurse Practice Act in my home state has an introduction which states that the nurse must present herself fit for duty. It is this nurse's personal responsibility to protect her job and her professional license, not yours.

I have been the kind and supportive coworker who has carried the workload for the not functional post stroke coworker, the not functional bipolar or severe ADHD coworker, the older coworker with cognitive decline, as well as the unable to function depressed and suicidal coworker going through a divorce. My experience is that these people are very manipulative. It is a no win situation. If you go to management out of genuine concern you will be in their eyes just a traitorous backstabber.

I would change my schedule or resign altogether. Trying to

be helpful and supportive to a truly mentally unstable coworker is a thankless job and just asking for trouble.

In retrospect, I very much regret getting involved in any way shape or form. The help completing tasks becomes their expectation. Do not enable.

If there is a clinical issue, confront your colleague privately. Every single time. If the colleague endangers a patient, that is reportable to risk management via an adverse event report. A staff nurse should not have to monitor her patient assignment a mentally ill coworker and that coworker's patients as well.

Edited by icuRNmaggie

nur14

Has 6 years experience.

Thank you for all the helpful suggestions. I am going to admit something. Because this co-worker has been so unstable I have found myself ignoring what she says and that is wrong too. This co-worker tried to point out to me that I was making an error today and I did not listen because of the source and she was right! So i ignored her and made an error, not a serious one thank God. But I have to really listen to what is being said, try to filter out the nonsense to find the truth. I am so far from being perfect, and need to admit it when I'm wrong. But I also need to act as professionally as possible with this co-worker so as not to step on anyone's toes...God what a balancing act.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

I had a problem with a nurse coworker. This coworker clearly has psychiatric issues and when she does not take her meds she is loud, obnoxious, rude, and annoying. I was training a new nurse and she kept interrupting and my patience ran thin. Long story short we both got hauled into the NM office because she walked in and asked how things were going and I had a disgusted look on my face. I was told I need to communicate to this nurse when I am too busy to help her. The nurse manager said my coworker was super sensitive and I have a strong personality? Don't know what strong personality means? By now this coworker is sobbing and I feel like a mean old ogre. I hugged her and told her I was not out to get her and she said it was her anxiety issues. I am trying to keep my distance from her, don't want to hurt her but don't want to be annoyed to death. I will keep trying, I am a work in progress. I must admit I don't always play nice in the sandbox, but I'm trying to play nice in the sandbox. Working with this nurse is a challenge but if I can learn to not lose my patience I will definitely be a better nurse and person.

Your coworker's mental health issues and medication compliance are none of your business. What IS your business is the communication/teamwork (or lack thereof) between the two of you. Focus on the behaviors, not on your interpretation of the reasons for them. And play nice.

But I have to really listen to what is being said, try to filter out the nonsense to find the truth. I am so far from being perfect, and need to admit it when I'm wrong. But I also need to act as professionally as possible with this co-worker so as not to step on anyone's toes...God what a balancing act.

Does she lie often? I know of a nurse that is a pathological liar, and I do not know how anyone can work with her as a result.

imintrouble, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC Rehab Med/Surg. Has 16 years experience.

I wouldn't want to be in the OPs shoes.

The sandbox reference made me think of kids, which made me think of a peculiar ...I don't know what to call it.

Two kids playing. One kid needles and pokes and throws sand when the adult's not looking. The other kid complains. And complains. And complains. Who gets in trouble? Who is called a whiner? Which kid do adults want to avoid?

My answer would be the kid who tried to play nice and did nothing wrong.

Avoid when possible.

Sometimes the weak link is the biggest bully.

Edited by imintrouble

nur14

Has 6 years experience.

Had another situation with this troublesome coworker. A client said to me that I have the reputation of being the toughest nurse to get by, in other words, if you are impaired and come to my dosing window I will deny your dose. This client said, "That is a compliment, you are doing your job.". But the fact that he said the clients were a little afraid of me upset me. I was discussing this with my NM and she said, "you took my job, that is what they used to say about me." Well, the co-worker that I don't get along with pipes up and says, "Oh yeah, the clients say that blond nurse with the glasses who never smiles is mean." This comment upset me as well, I replied, "Like in the movie Gone with the Wind, Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!" Well I was upset by these comments, I really try to be nice to everyone, so this coworker who just made the comment, comes over and rubs my back and says, "I didn't mean to upset you." I said, "you didn't upset me, I don't care." So when it was time for break, now she wants me to help her do the narcotic count and I said, "No, that is ok, Derek another coworker can help you do the count. I said, "I'm going to take my mean blonde ****** self out of this dispensary and go on break". I realize not everyone is going to like you, clients included. It was the fact that this coworker was taking pleasure in my pain that bothered me. I truly don't want any trouble with anyone. This coworker earlier in the day asked for my help and I tried to help her. The minute I started showing her how to do something she was telling me I was wrong. I backed away from her and said, "Call the NM for help if you need it." I am not engaging with her, I will walk away and I'm documenting all these incidents. I will keep trying to deal with coworker in an appropriate manner, it is clear to me I have some growing to do. I also need to learn how to deal with difficult people in an appropriate manner. Yes, I have definite room for improvement in getting along with coworkers.

nur14

Has 6 years experience.

Never heard of the Crusty Old Bat Society but the name tickles my fancy, feel like I should probably belong to that society...:) Most of my coworkers are a lot younger than me, and don't even know what I am talking about because they were born in the 70's , 80's. I am becoming a dinosaur but you are as young as you feel and I have the spirit of an 18 year old. Old Abe was right, you are as happy as you decide to be...:)