"Nurse Eater" -Toxic Coworkers

  1. Ok, I know that we have all had those people around us when we see that we have to work with that particular person who just makes you feel like you wish you'd called in sick (because you will be sick later on in the shift just from dealing with that person.) This is the story of me and my situation. I have to work with this person that just treats me like crap. For the sake of arguement will call him, Nurse eater. So when you see "nurse eater" he goes out of his way to make snotty remarks to you about how hard his job is just because he has to follow you. "Nurse eater" also makes innuendos about how horrible a nurse you are. My days with nurse eater just bite. Unfortuantely, "nurse eater" is loved by all the other nurses for mostly senority (well say four years of more experience). I will call myself an "old newbie" for the sake of arguement. No one else sees how I am treated by this person because it seems that it is just us two interacting when it happens. I have asked other coworkers if they have a problem with me and they say no. So me, being a very passive and non-confrontational person needs a way to fix this.

    I don't need to be told that I am being too sensitive, I know that is part of the problem. Help me with suggestions please.
  2. Visit moonshadeau profile page

    About moonshadeau, ADN, BSN, MSN, APN, NP, CNS

    Joined: Jul '00; Posts: 639; Likes: 70
    Specialty: 15 year(s) of experience


  3. by   soundsLikesirens
    I know what you mean; I'm in the same situation. I have a co-worker that is ALWAYS ********...but it doesn't really bother me that much because I know it's bull. My suggestion to you: when this person starts kvetching about how "hard" his job is, give him/her what she's seeking: sympathy - LOTS of it...if you know what I mean. "AAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWW.....poor baby!!" Rush over and pet them on the shoulder...just don't let the b.s. get to you. They're getting off on it because they can tell it's getting next to you...stop taking it seriously.
  4. by   Jenny P
    Moonshadeau, soundsLike sirens is right; some people will snipe at others just to see the reaction they get. If this particular nurse is getting to you, change your response so he can't get any pleasure from making you squirm. The sympathy act may work, but maybe if you ask him why he has trouble following you when no one else does, he might realise what he's saying. If he's liked by the rest of the staff, is this the way he reacts with them and they realise its' not serious? Or are his snide remarks reserved just for you? I work with some people who can make cutting remarks at times, but usually they are just blowing off steam on stressful days and it isn't personal; they would say the same things to anyone following them on those days. I did once have a head nurse who would come in early (I was charge nurse on nights) and make nasty remarks about me and all of the nurses on the unit. I did get to the point of being physically ill every morning before she came on and there was nothing else to do but quit that job and move on, even though I liked the job and my other co-workers. I haven't regretted it, but I would handle the situationa lot differently now that I'm not so meek anymore.
  5. by   mustangsheba
    This guy never grew up, did he! It makes it especially tough when nobody else seems to have a problem. A few suggestions: 1. Look him square in the eye and say "You know, I'm really sick of the way you talk to me. I am keeping a journal of everything rude you say to me and I will be presenting to our supervisor at the end of the month". 2. Tell the AH that you will be recording every conversation you have with him. Of course, he will alter the way he speaks, but that's what you want anyway. There is a remote possibility that he's not consciously aware of how he relates to you. Maybe you remind him of someone in his past and he's taking it out on you. It is possible. Not likely, but possible. Let me know what you decide. MS.
  6. by   Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    I think we all have problem co-workers or have had some in the past. I am not unsympathetic or unempathetic with your dilemma. Your description seems pretty general and I would guess you might be able to pinpoint when this behavior began? Can you determine if she/he has ever done this to anyone else? Is he being passive/agressive to try to change your clinical behaviors rather than stating directly how he finds your nursing care. In other words, is this purely personal on her/his part with you or is there some basis of truth in his innuendos? I ask these questions just so you can answer them for yourself.

    The best method for solving interpersonal conflict is to first decide if the fight is worth the effort. If yes, then decide what outcome you want. win/lose, lose/lose, lose/win or win/win. If all you want is for her/him to shut up and leave you alone, then you have a lose/lose because nothing gets done. If you want a productive outcome so that your future working relationship is not jeapordized, then look for the win/win.
    The win/win will not happen over night or from one encounter. This type of solution requires, direct confrontation, negotiation, bargaining and eventually collaboration. If you do not have these skills, or find them intimidating (as many do), then seek a 3rd party to arbitrate. Do not threaten and do not display behaviors that are not genuine (i really don't agree with the "smother him with sympathy route). Send the right message at the right time in the right situation to the right person. If you are angry about something he said, state it to him (and not someone else) bluntly. "I am angry about what you just said. I do not have time to deal with it now, but I will let YOU know when I can". This simple statement puts YOU in control and him on notice. The second statement that might come afterwards is: "We have a problem here and I am interested in working through it and we can address it when we talk later". But, you MUST follow through. If you are more comfortable with a 3rd party, let him know that after you request the 3rd party's assistance. Putting him on notice that you want to work through the issue puts YOU in control. He can choose not to deal with it, but you have the satisfaction of telling him later that he didn't want to deal with it, so any further problems are HIS, not yours and you will let the approrpiate manager deal with them.

    I realize this is a great deal to digest, but think through it carefully. There is a great deal of literature available on conflict resolution and you might want to hit the libarary for some help.
  7. by   moonshadeau
    Thanks everyone for offering some advice to handle this. The option of going to the unit manager really isn't an option because she isn't around all the time and I believe would mostly side with nurse eater anyway. Like I said before, everyone else believes that nurse eater is the sweetest thing ever. Nurse eater just always places that one seed of doubt in your mind questioning if you are a good nurse or not. 9 times out of 10 when fielding questions regarding care of patients and why things were and were not done, I feel that I made did the best job for my patients. Anyway, I just needed a place to vent. Since I can't vent at work or home, I thought I would try here. Most likely scenario is that I sit back and take it. (and try to avoid nurse eater as much as possible).
  8. by   Mijourney
    Hi moonshadeau. As other posters implied, your co-worker has a problem. You need to find a way to get this "monkey off your back" so it will stay his problem. Your post indicates you are very frustrated and have a shakened confidence. Do you feel unduly harrassed in some way? In my opinion, you need to make sure you document everything and be careful of your verbal and nonverbal responses towards him. Practice your noverbal and verbal gestures at home. Come to work in a positive mode and try to put some humor in your work by laughing at yourself from time to time. Believe it or not, laughing at yourself sometimes leaves an antagonist speechless. Attempt to put on a permanent smile. It will be hard for people to detect your true feelings with a smile unless it's given away in your tone of voice. Finally, pray for the man. He has a problem that you want to see him overcome. Please try not to take him personally, if at all possible. It will only drag you down, because, hopefully, you are not trying to be his personal friend. If you hang around long enough, you may find that this nurse will eventually be eaten by his own actions. Best wishes.
  9. by   hollykate
    I've got a "nurse eater " In my unit as well- how about we get all the nurse eaters together and make them staff a unit. (hee hee) Sometimes you just have to suck it up and deal, and continue to do the best you can for your patients. ABout the seed of doubt- remember, your manager and others are watching you- someone would let you know if you were not doing the stuff you need to- not just this self appointed nurse eater. SO take heart, you are doing fine. And maybe you would want to very sweetly remind nurse eater that even if it is difficult to follow you, if you had not staffed that shift, they would have been calling him all day/night long asking himn if he wouldn't mind coming in a little early etc. If that doesn't work- you can always try the Imaginary saying, "I think you stink- or various more colorful versions" while you nod and say Umhmmm as he spews his nastiness. I know how badly this can hurt, and I really feel for you. It does get better. Good Luck,
  10. by   soundsLikesirens
    I don't agree with this because this isn't just a misunderstanding - this is a situation in which she is being verbally abused. It's not a situation in which I would expect to resolve in the "win/win" mode, because this person obviously has a problem. It's not like they're 2 reasonable people. To me, the issue is for her to refuse to let it bother her or affect her work...she is being disrespected to her face so, to my way of thinking, she doesn't owe him an "honest" response.
  11. by   soundsLikesirens
    I also don't agree with the advice to tell this person that they're "really upsetting" you....that's what they WANT. And, if you tell them that you're keeping a journal of their nasty remarks (like you'd have TIME to do that), I imagine they'd laugh in your face if you said you're going to present it to the unit manager. Can you imagine? They don't care about childish stuff like that. No, you have to fight your own battles instead of always going to Mommy or Daddy. Unit managers these days are too busy to deal with b.s. Also, since you're the only one he's tormenting, the unit manager would probably talk to the others and they'd say, "Why, no....he doesn't bother me in the least." It'll make you look like a liar.
  12. by   Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    Apparently my options to you have caused some controversy. I do not apologize for the controversy. I believe stongly that the only way to handle this person is to do it honestly. Put yourself in the control seat and take him out of it. If you sit back and take what is dished out, you passively assert his right to hound you, as well as passively assert that he is correct! Why would anyone accept that behavior? If you continue to be passive, he is given the authority to continue this behavior with you and anyone else he does not like.

    I do hope you think about taking a different course of action.

  13. by   Mijourney
    Originally posted by Charles S. Smith, RN, MS:
    Apparently my options to you have caused some controversy. I do not apologize for the controversy. I believe stongly that the only way to handle this person is to do it honestly. Put yourself in the control seat and take him out of it. If you sit back and take what is dished out, you passively assert his right to hound you, as well as passively assert that he is correct! Why would anyone accept that behavior? If you continue to be passive, he is given the authority to continue this behavior with you and anyone else he does not like.

    I do hope you think about taking a different course of action.

    Hi Charles. I don't feel that your suggestions are controversial. Nor do I feel that my comments suggest passivity. There is always more than one approach to a situation. Sometimes there is a multiple approach. You're suggesting that moonshadeau apply a tried and true method in dealing with a difficult person. I agree with you that assertion is called for. In fact, I have taken several courses on assertion/conflict resolution and found them helpful in assisting me in venting and managing concerns in a thoughtful manner without venting uncontrolled anger. However, assertion, as you are aware, is not easily learned or demonstrated. You need a certain kind of finesse and confidence (not arrogance) when you are being assertive. This comes with practice and time.
    My suggestions in my post only acknowledge that you can't change people. Change has to come from within before it go out. Establishing an inner peace, positiveness, and esteem I think are essential qualities in dealing with difficult people as well as the external boldness and confidence that you suggested.
    Finally, we all know that shift issues, no matter how good the care is, are very common in nursing and will continue. As you indicated in your post, moonshadeau needs to assess whether she or her staff are in fact increasing the challenges faced by the shift that follows them. I can't tell you the number of times when I worked the hospitals that I came into a mess because the work was not prioritized properly. However, I just simply sat down and discussed this issues with the charge nurse and we came to an understanding.
    Let there be no mistake, however, that it is up to management to set the tone for the practice of nursing care which encourages team work and collaboration and discourages peer to peer competition. Again, I feel that striving to be your best, in spite of, is more important than striving against someone else. I am learning this as I age. Moonshadeau, I do agree that you should not simply roll over and play dead. Just play very carefully. I still feel you want to record the details of each incident in the unfortunate event you have to go over your NM's head.
  14. by   rncountry
    Having dealt with this as a newer nurse, and trying my darnest to just do everything right so she would lay off, something that never worked. I left that job. I regret leaving to this day. I loved the work, it challanged me. After that experience I decided that never again would I allow something like that to happen. And I haven't. At some point, hopefully you will decide that you will not allow someone to intimidate you. That is what is going on, not that this nurse doesn't like you, thinks you are poor at what you do or anything else. That nurse has the power to intimidate you and for some that is a wonderful power trip. The one and only person who can control that is you. By standing up for yourself and putting the toxic nurse on notice that the abuse he is hurling at you is unacceptable and will not be tolerated you take control. The nurse is not likely to give the control they have up easily so be prepared, however if you stick to your guns you will find that it will cease. Have I done this myself. You bet. It is hard the first few times, but the end rewards are very worth it. Go on the offense and make that nurse defend their actions. I hope you do. The feeling of being in control of not only your practice but your life is empowering. Once you take that step no one will be able to intimidate you again.