Bullying--The Other "B" Word - page 5

Not long ago if another nurse rolled her eyes when you gave report, cut you off while you were asking a question, or ignored you when said you needed help wasting a narcotic, she would have been... Read More

  1. by   rn/writer
    You are learning a valuable lesson, whitebunny. It's okay to be friendly with co-workers, but that should not be the primary focus of your attention.

    The best thing you can do is decide what you're going to do and how you're going to feel and limit all interaction with this other person to job-related matters. Refuse to be pulled into arguments about what you owe her. Don't listen to threats or guilt trips. If she fills out incident reports, let your boss know that this other person is trying to retaliate against you for personal matters.

    Whatever happens, present a blank expression to her. Don't let her see you respond emotionally to anything she says. That's how bullies and mean people get their payoff. Seeing others squirm and suffer feeds their ego and adds to their power. Have a good cry in the bathroom, if you must. Go home and punch pillows or yell at the clouds. But discharge all negative emotions where she won't be able to see them. Then you can look at her with a stone face or even a polite, but distant, smile.

    Keep your head in the game and concentrate on caring for your patients. If this person is mean enough to try to sabotage your nursing care, keep a diary of such incidents and inform your supervisor. This would be a patient safety issue, not just a personality clash.

    I admire you for being able to make the transition to another language and culture. You have much to be proud of.
  2. by   lemur00
    I realize this is an old thread, but thought I'd necro to add my thoughts. The apparently rampant bullying problem has come up a lot lately in my circles and like the OP, I think a lot of the apparent increasing frequency has to do with the redefining of what it means to bully. In conversations I have stated people with more social control must rebuke bullies for their bad behaviour; the rejoinder I often get is "but you can't bully them back". But shaming someone for bad behaviour isn't bullying. It's a way of laying down the ground rules for the group culture. And if it's not allowed, well no wonder no one knows how to act appropriately.

    However I think that brings us to a bigger root problem. Rebuke is seen as "bullying" because it's negative and "not nice". I think a lot of these problems stem not from the fact that we're meaner but from the fact that North American culture has elevated an insipid "niceness" to the supreme virtue.

    A friend once told me "niceness is just kindness minus any honesty." That's the rub I think. Kindness is a virtue. Nicety is an empty facsimile of it that has been stripped of all realness and truth. Kindness refers to being gentle and considerate while niceness has the connotation of being "agreeable". So while kindness is honest, nicety requires a lot of dishonesty and pretense. A direct and blunt person may be kind, but is never nice.

    Yet we confuse the two and want people to be nice all the time (this can also be seen in debates where people assume everyone who disagrees with them is mean and a h8r. Really they're just not playing nice.). In reality they are very different and produce very different sorts of behaviour.

    In addition, Kindness is directed outward in concern for others, while niceness is always self directed. For example, the kind person will rebuke or disagree with others because his concern for the other is greater than his concern about whether that person likes him or is a friend. These people disagree with you because they want you to get better at what you're doing--if that means you get angry at them, so be it. Yes they try to handle conflict in a gentle manner, but they don't back away from it if it means a better outcome.

    On the other hand, the nice person will just let you continue on, try to "get along", never say anything negative or "mean" and hope everyone likes him--these people care about themselves and their image more than they care about you. The side effect of this is that all negative emotions to go underground which creates a culture where they are expressed in increasingly passive aggressive ways. The "nice" person won't tell YOU what you're doing is wrong, but he will tell everyone else. And as this behaviour is rewarded and accepted, it becomes more and more entrenched. The perpetrator can then claim "but I've always been nice to her" even if they've been targeting you with passive aggressive obstruction for months.

    I've noticed that people often say "bullying" of this passive aggressive type is one of the pitfalls of a female dominated profession and to an extent I agree with that. I do think that's going to change in the next number of years, because the reason this behaviour is more common amongst females is that they have always been enculturated to be "nice" while men have been enculturated to be direct. This is changing and now everyone is expected to play nice all the time, both male and female. Make no mistake, it has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with gender education. As a woman who is not and has never been nice, I have definitely seen the repercussions of going against the norm.

    Not surprisingly I think the antidote to niceness is kindness. The PA behaviour needs to be handled directly and honestly, with gentleness and consideration. But it must be handled and boundaries must be set, understanding that avoiding the problem (whatever it may be) only perpetuates it.
  3. by   rn/writer
    Really good observations, lemur00. I would add that this labeling of everything negative as bullying stems, not only from female enculturation to be "nice," but also from the "everybody gets a trophy" school of thought, in which feeling bad is something to be avoided at all costs. And making someone else feel bad is tantamount to assaulting them.

    But what about when a person does something wrong and ought to feel bad about what they've done? They don't need to feel bad about their very personhood, but when no one is ever asked or allowed to feel bad or embarrassed or ashamed of what they've done (when their actions clearly merit such a response), there is no remorse, repentance or growth. What shows up in the place of thoughts and emotions that might lead to change and eventual maturity is excuse-making, blaming (you made me feel bad), and avoidance.

    Hope the pendulum starts swinging back toward taking responsibility and resisting taking every little wrinkle as a personal attack.
  4. by   lemur00
    Yeah that's what I mean about social control. This is the same pyre satire has been hoisted up on (how many people out there think satire is noble and moral? Yet its whole purpose is to moralize). No one can make another person feel bad without obviously being a fat ugly jealous loser. Yet there are certain things people need to "feel bad" about, and the people with more social power I think have a responsibility to use their influence to curtail bad behaviour. The problem is that when group leaders shirk this responsibility, the true bully "gets away with it" and is never forced to take responsibility for his actions. At the same time, everyone feels vaguely bad but feel powerless to stop him.

    Of course as I hinted, the other side of that is that bullying in some ways is becoming more common because direct confrontation is increasingly becoming frowned upon, and fewer people know how to do it well. If healthy ways of dealing with conflict and negative feedback aren't encouraged, they are replaced with unhealthy ones.
  5. by   ProfRN4
    Quote from jadelpn

    Ah, but in opinion it IS happening. This is akin to the notion of "my husband verbally abuses me" vs, "no, your husband is just an *******" or "my parents are so abusive" vs. "they are very strict" . Even sexual harrassment in the workplace. One's hysterically funny joke makes someone else uncomfortable, and one can be brought up on sexual harrassment charges. Inappropriate behaviors have no place in the workplace. Bullies seem to be informed and cunning perpertrators. They know how to push the envelope JUST so far. And I truly believe that perpetuating the myth that one has to put up with someone else's bad behaviors when directed at them in the workplace (where often one doesn't have a choice of leaving or not) is not correct.
    Much of what you you as examples are (IMO) subjective. I think sexual harassment is the most objective of what is listed here (with the exception of physical abuse).
    Not saying that none of the others can be considered bullying, it is obviously situation dependent.

    The example I really have an issue with is the parenting one (strict vs. abusive). As a parent, and a professor of (young) nursing students, I see more and more that the new generation is so quick to call people mean and strict, citing that "she hates me", or "she yelled at me". Me telling my child she has to go to bed earlier (because she has trouble waking up, not as a punishment), IMO, is not bullying or abuse (but if you ask her, it is). problem is these perceptions often stay with people, and carry into their adulthood. Many people cannot handle being corrected, or told that they need to improve on something (notice I didn't even say reprimanded or disciplined- I do my share of discipline at home, it's not my job to do it at work). We have become so that we have to tiptoe around everyone's ego, that to tell someone they're not performing up to par is akin to bullying. Remember, everyone gets a trophy these days, just for participating. Everyone is a winner!!!

    This is not so say there is no such thing. I've seen it, I've heard many stories (that I am inclined to believe) where bullying does exist. This thread has make me look back at my career in nursing, and I'd say the majority of negative encounters I've had we're with witches. I think it's rather self centered to think that everyone that was mean to me was "out to get me" (especially when I see them acting the same way with others). Are they all investing so much time out of their lives to make mine miserable? Nah. OTOH, my daughter has been a victim of cyber-bullying, by her ex-best friend. When someone is using the Internet, accessing your account, making up fake accounts to send you nasty messages, I'm guessing (by the definitions stared here), that this is more than just being witchy, no?