Tips for Nurses: Dealing with annoying coworkers

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    One thing they don't teach you in nursing school is how to deal with annoying coworkers. If you work in a hospital, you probably work 12-hour shifts. Those 12 hours can zip right by or drag on FOREVER depending on many factors, one of which is the type of nurses that you work with.

    Tips for Nurses: Dealing with annoying coworkers

    For me, the hardest type of nurse to deal with is a "free" charge who sits at the desk, reading, talking or knitting while her coworkers run around like chickens with their heads cut off. Not only are they not helping out, they are getting "charge pay" to sit there and do nothing.

    In my years of nursing, I have worked with many nurses like this. It will not do any good to address this issue with your floor manager.

    She is the one who schedules this nurse as charge nurse and she is fully aware of how she behaves. To complain about her will only make you look like a troublemaker. The way that I now deal with this issue is to simply do my job, ignoring the fact that the charge nurse is not helping out.

    If something happens during the shift that warrants notifying the charge nurse, let her know what the problem is and what you are going to do about it. Then document in your notes that the charge nurse has been made aware of the situation.

    If the situation escalates without the charge nurse giving you some guidance, then let the house supervisor know what is going on, and document that as well. Avoid complaining to the house supervisor about the charge nurse. Just inform him/her that the charge nurse is aware of the situation.

    It can be very frustrating, but as long as you keep your cool, document well and continue to care for your patients, you will have the upper hand. If you end up overwhelmed and there are too many things going on at one time, nicely ask your coworkers for their assistance. Most of them are more than willing to help you out if they are caught up, knowing that you would do the same for them.

    Another annoying coworker is the nurse who talks constantly.

    She will tell you her whole life history, share personal information that you would rather not hear and disrupt your train of thought. If you must, move to another area to gather your thoughts, document in your nurses notes or call doctors. If you cannot do that, continue to do your charting and answer her with "Uh-huh" without making eye contact. Hopefully, she will see that you are busy and eventually stop talking.

    Another tactic I have used is to look up, and sweetly ask, "Are you already done with your charting? You must really be on the ball!". Most of the time, they have not started their charting and that snaps them back to reality.

    Lastly, we have all worked with "The Complainer".

    Every unit has one. They complain about their assignment, the nurse aides, the weather and anything else that comes to mind. Another trait that "The Complainer" has is chronic grumpiness. I usually try to distract them with humor or jokes. When that does not work, I distance myself from them as much as possible. Negativity is catching. It can sneak right up on you before you know it. Never join them in their complaint tirades because it will reflect poorly on you. If you think that they are generally unhappy, you might ask them if there is something that you can do to help them out. But beware, sometimes these types of people use these complaints to solicit sympathy so that they can borrow money, or ask for inappropriate favors. Usually the best way to deal with this coworker is to keep to yourself, avoid excessive conversation with them and stay positive.

    None of us are perfect, but in order to stay on good terms with your fellow coworkers, here are some tips:
    • Stay positive
    • Be willing to help out
    • Don't gossip
    • Don't be a tattle tale
    • Recognize when a fellow staffer is overwhelmed and offer assistance
    • Keep complaints to a minimum
    • Help out your nurse aides whenever possible
    • Be supportive of new nurses
    • Treat everyone with respect even if they don't deserve it.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14, '18
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  3. by   mukunda22
    • Treat everyone with respect even if they don't deserve it
    Everyone deserves respect. If you are giving a fake kind of respect, all the while thinking the person doesn't deserve it, then people will sense this sort of inauthenticity.

    If you don't truly feel it, don't give it.

    Better yet, work on the art of respecting everyone, as befits the higher calling of a spiritual Nurse Healer.
  4. by   Bugaloo
    Mukunda22, Thanks for your reply. In response, I must say that I feel as if someone is to gain my respect, they must earn it. I can get along with anybody, and my mother taught me to be "respectful", meaning that I should treat others as I would like to be treated. And I follow that rule to this day. However..if someone's actions are rude, unkind or just plain hateful, I cannot be respectful of those types of actions, therefore I cannot feel a genuine respect for that person. I do not fake it, I just keep my relationship with that person on a very basic level. Although I am a very compassionate person, I truly feel as if respect should be earned, and in this world, not everyone earns it.
  5. by   walk6miles
    Enjoyed the article. May I share something with you? I am a centralized staff kind of girl and I frequently go to our ISC. There is a Charge there who I will occasionally see reading in her office BUT she also pitches in every where AND (this is the coolest) she takes all the scheduled CT patients to CT in the early hours of the morning and you know how important that is!

    Her outstanding kindness allows the rest of us to continue with our routine and we love her for it! Gold stars for her!
  6. by   Bugaloo
    That is awesome!! I have worked with some great charge nurses and some not-so-great charge nurses. You have a winner there!
  7. by   mukunda22
    I guess I have a different way of looking at it.

    When people annoy me, I know I must work on my self, my own attitude, because I don't respect myself as long as I reject and separate myself from others.

    And self-respect is Joy.
  8. by   Rina10
    As individuals who are in the same field we should treat each other with respect because it is not gained but rather earned
  9. by   Weeping Willow
    I'm not sure I could be silent about a lazy, selfish charge nurse and not explode. If my Manager wouldn't deal with it, I think I'd have to mention it next time the DON makes rounds.

    I always treat others with courtesy, I help whenever needed, I try very hard never to ask for help. I try to just do my work and learned long ago not to tell my personal news at work if I don't want it spread all over the building.
  10. by   psychnurse1998
    Great article...I have been tempted to make up a bumpter sticker saying...if you cant be compassionate with your co workers how can you be compassionate with patients? I help others when I am ahead and they are behind, hoping my acts are as contagious as the flu virus.

    I come a few minutes early to be ahead of the game, only to find the nurse that is to give me report, playing on the computer. And this nurse expects me to complete doctors orders from that nurses shift. go figuire. I agree with your suggestions..
  11. by   interleukin
    Your article misses a fundamental point; it explicitly implies that a nurse should do whatever she can to maintain the status quo--however regressive and/or unhealthy--and affirms the historical fact that nurses should just be quiet little helpers.

    "It will not do any good to address this issue with your floor manage...and to complain about her will only make you look like a troublemaker"
    Being afraid to be labeled a "troublemaker" is exactly how an unprofessional management team wants its workers to feel. If an issue is legitimate, and you do nothing about it for fear of being labeled, you are letting down yourself and all the other nurses. In effect, you are actively promoting and perpetuating just the environment that brought you to the subject in the first place.

    Your charge nurse, and those above her/him, know when your issues are real. And they will not confront you if they are. They are not stupid. So, you can document 'til the cows some home but by simply apprising them of issues makes them responsible. If things go wrong, the-- not you--will have to answer to the CEO. And they don't want to have to do that. If only document and "play nice" I guarantee you will eventual hear, "Well, we didn't know, why didn't you tell us?" And you will be the one on the hot seat.

    If you have gone up the ladder of responsibility and no one is willing to listen, then you should reconsider where you are working.

    "Another annoying coworker is the nurse who talks constantly"

    Sure, we know them. Rather than enabling their behavior simply say with a smile, "I'll talk to you later, I've got to finfish." Then bury you head in what you're doing.
    No beating around the bush, just clear, concise and truthful. Works every time.

    "Lastly, we have all worked with "The Complainer". Every unit has one"

    Hey, you've probably already labeled me as the complainer because I'm not agreeing with what, historically, has been submissive nursing behavior for so long.

    Again, this is worst of worst type of advice and it puts pressure on people to "just be good little sheep."
    They may sound a bit rough but think about it.
    Nursing is where it is today in large part because nurses never found their voice to say, for example, "'re asking us to do more and more every year with the same amount of time and the same expectations of perfect practice. "

    Nurses, stop being afraid to speak up. No, not ad nauseum about the color of the curtains
    or the size of the cups in the breakroom. But voice concerns over real issues. Just make sure you know what you are talking about and that you have some sort of remedy.
    Perhaps you should have said, don't complain for sake of complaining Sure no one likes that, but those nurses are transparent and easily marginalized. By simply saying, with a smile, "Ok, then what's your solution?" then, "Now go tell the director and let me know what she said." Then move on to another subject.

    Again, I guarantee she/he will back off and get the message.
    Stop enabling bad behavior and stop worrying about your popularity in a place where your patients and their families are your sole employer. Do right by them and be professional to others and you will--in a decently run place-- be bulletproof.
  12. by   rph3664
    This article is relevant to people who work anywhere, not just for nurses or other healthcare workers.

    I have worked in many job environments, and in this regard, they are all the same.
  13. by   Bugaloo
    Interleukin, I appreciate your thoughts, but I would be willing to bet that many nurses who use this forum have dealt with upper management that really did not want to deal with complaints from floor nurses.

    In the facilities that I have worked in, some nurses are really just a "warm body" to supplement staffing. Management is fully aware of the work ethics of these types of nurses, but choose to look the other way rather than having to possibly dismiss them and find someone who will take their place.

    In the area that I work in, even with 2 junior colleges putting out new grads every year, and several large universities within an hour's drive from here, the nursing shortage is very real. I have worked with nurses that have had complaints filed against them for years and they are still there, often in positions of authority.

    I guess when something tragic happens, management will have to answer for keeping these nurses. Until then, they prefer to play the "wait and see" game.

    In the past, I have been the one to try to stand up and say "This is not right" only to be told that I am stepping out of bounds, been made to float to other units more often than others, and written up for minor infractions.

    I have learned a lot from these experiences, but I have to say that, if I want to keep my job, be treated fairly, and preserve my reputation, I have learned to just KEEP QUIET. It makes my life so very much easier.

    I take good care of my patients, help others when I can and avoid management at all costs. Being in the field as long as I have, I have learned to pick my battles. Some are just NOT worth the hassle.

    I hope that you have worked in facilities that are sensitive to the nurse's needs, fire the nurses who need to be fired, and listened to their nurse's concerns, but so far, that has not been my experience.
  14. by   interleukin
    [color=#1750ff]dear bugaloo,

    i appreciate your position. i know i may sound shrill and seem to be nave. i am neither. some may say that because i have no family to support and there are employment options in this area, i have the luxury of being indignant and exposing wrongdoing.
    but is there not a threshold of moral dignity beyond which we must not cross?

    i know...better to do the right thing, than to insist on being right. i am aware of all the management warnings.

    it is to those who simply may be afraid who need some moral support in order to step out of their circle of comfort and confront some issues that i write. i try to empower nurses.
    (no, i ma not a union rep of any kind)
    and yes, picking the “right fight" is a well-worn philosophy and one which has merit. i just feel that when patient's lives are at stake, the threshold for action should not be at the level to that of other professions.

    it is disheartening to hear how many must stay below the radar lest they get their heads handed to them. on the one hand i say, "if no one speaks then we all are responsible and accountable for what may come.” on the other, "if i just do my job my bills get paid and my life style remains intact."

    each of us must reconcile our behaviors but i believe there is a reference for moral and ethical justice and we should strive to achieve it. i just have trouble seeing people coerced, demonized, unsupported, manipulated when those workers are the very engine of the entire operation.

    i do work in a place that seems to be better run than most. but it is far from perfect. we do help each other but we are constantly struggling to maintain safety in an era when nursing has become a virtual dumping ground for added tasks and duties. i ignore those who label me “negative” for that is a most common reaction for it effectively absolves them for having to think about and/or do anything about the issue.
    it is much like voters who say, ”oh, they’re all the same, why should i vote?”
    they incredibly relinquish their responsibility to affect decisions that actually may affect their very lives. but most people do are like that only 30% of people actually vote in our elections in this country.

    most have found me to be an inspiration and know that i will speak up and advocate for my patients. nothing can stand in that way if it is best for the patient. and none will in any organization worth its salt.

    i am sorry for those of you stuck in places that treat you poorly. just try and remember that you are a member in the largest professional workforce in the country. have the courage to stand proud.