Incivility And The Workplace


Hello Nurses,

I am trying to get advice on how to try and change bad behavior in the workplace.

I recently started a new job in the ER and I am so disgruntled with how all of the nurses

speak to each other. It's basically very rude and borderline disrespectful. I have already told

one person who spoke to me rudely to never speak to me like that. But since I am the new

nurse and still in orientation, I was looked at like I was the one with issues. Unfortunately, I was told by the supervisor that I shouldn't take offense to how I am spoken to because everyone tends to be very blunt with each other and that's just how it is. I find it so sad that the supervisor does not understand that it's her responsibility to change that culture in her workplace. The way I see it, she reminds me of an old nurse who is just set in her ways and does not like change. Would like to get thoughts from supervisors who accepts this behavior and why.

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 46 years experience.

Perhaps some examples would be helpful. Because it is true, when things are busy, people tend to be blunt. Being blunt is NOT the same as having bad behavior or bullying. It is not adhering to the social construct another would prefer.

So, can you provide some examples?

Specializes in NICU. Has 40 years experience.

Kudos for standing up for yourself,never take gruff from anyone.I have yet to see nurses get support from administration when bullied and if you give it back they say you're the one that is wrong.

Specializes in Pediatric nursing: ED, forensic, neuro, triage. Has 16 years experience.

Congratulations on your position in the ER. It is a fantastic way to learn about yourself and humanity! ER nurses are amazing....

So, I agree with the previous poster that there's a difference between curt/concise communication when time and lives are at stake and being disrespectful and uncivil. The ANA has tightened up their standards on incivility in the work place and it is your right to expect to be emotionally safe and respected by your colleagues. Research has revealed that incivility affects turn-over and nurse morale which, in turn affects patient care.

I'd document each episode and if needed, go to HR with your concerns.

Try to be civil yourself and reflect on how you may also need to change your communication style. Have grace, humility, and respect for your more seasoned nurses. I know that this day and age, everyone is on an equal playing field, but a little respect goes a long way...

Finally, listen to your body through all of this. Nursing is TOUGH and rewarding, but your health should not suffer long term. Nerves are normal, but if you find yourself not sleeping, have changed your eating habits, your mood has changed and you are more with drawn or sensitive, you might need to consider a move.........

I've been through painful situations with colleagues. One person in particular ultimately was fired for her bullying behavior and our team is better off without her. Not all managers or hospitals will tell you to just bite the bullet, but it does take a bit of documentation and counseling to get the offender removed if necessary.


Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 46 years experience.

OP- are you still there? Comments?

Specializes in Pediatric nursing: ED, forensic, neuro, triage. Has 16 years experience.

I just thought of one other thing... If your hospital has a nurse residency program or follow up program for graduate nurses, try and get connected with them. They could be a support for you when you are struggling with interactions..... Again, good luck

TriciaJ, RN

4,296 Posts

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 42 years experience.

I'm reading "I just started a new job and I don't like how anyone speaks and I'm trying to get everyone to change and the supervisor won't do her job the way I think she should." The culture in that work place might be the pits, or OP just isn't used to the way they roll. I don't know when a new person has ever changed a workplace culture to her own liking, but I've seen many try and fail.

Wouldn't it be a better use of time and energy for the OP to try to fit into her new workplace before judging everyone? If after a while everyone still rubs her the wrong way, maybe she's just not a good fit for that environment. Or maybe they just have a bad culture and she needs to be somewhere else. But it never bodes well for the newbie to start instantly judging her new coworkers.


40 Posts

We are looking at some of those same issues. Administration is taking it seriously as a retention concern. Some advice is to be the kind of co-worker you want to work with. Don't adapt to their gruff ways, offer to help when you are able, thank people specifically when they help you with the focus on how their help allowed you both to give excellent patient care, get to know your coworkers, and set respectful boundaries. Allowing yourself to be disrespected is giving permission for it to continue. Take care of yourself outside of work as well, hobbies, exercise etc. Find a confidant to discuss concerns, but do not allow it to be a gossip session. Avoid gossip altogether, because at some point you will agree with something that is said, and then you become part of the problem. When people are complaining, find something to be grateful for. It takes practice but this can help yourself, which can help you lead by example. the culture may or may not change, but it will go a long way in helping you cope and not get caught in the mire. Persistence is essential.


18 Posts

Has 1 years experience.

TriciaJ has a good point. I started at a new ER and it took about a year for the staff to warm up to me. I was pissed at first due to some negative interactions. But with time, everything got a lot better. Hang in there, stand up for yourself, and be the change you want to see. That's all you can do. And whenever you think about leaving, unless it is beyond bearable, remember the grass isn't always greener. Advice I wish I had years ago.

Specializes in Med/Surg/Tele/ER/PICC/Psychiatric nurse. Has 15 years experience.

Thank for the advice I do plan to document so if anything further happens I will have proof.

Specializes in Med/Surg/Tele/ER/PICC/Psychiatric nurse. Has 15 years experience.

Thank you for your advice. I plan to stick it out here. I've alway wanted to work ER now that Im here I can't let people's attitude force me out

Specializes in Med/Surg/Tele/ER/PICC/Psychiatric nurse. Has 15 years experience.

Yes. I'm still there. I'm going to stay here. I got a bonus and a $5 pay increase when I was hired for this

job so I don't not plan on leaving. But I just wish people were less abrasive with one another.