Too nice? Where do you draw the line? Need advice

  1. I'm including these past situations to highlight a pattern here - I'm often told that I'm too nice, passive, laidback, things like that - with regards to being treated poorly by other people, but not saying anything about it.

    · When I worked in long-term care when I was a student, another staff there asked me if I liked the job. I told her I didn't really like it because of some negative experiences that I had. She then replied with something along the lines of, "You don't talk, that's the problem. As for me, they know they can't mess with me."

    · During a psych rotation, I was placed on a young adult unit. On the first day, I met a patient who was extremely inappropriate with me - hitting on me, asking for my Facebook, trying to give me a hug, those kinds of things. I was very shocked and speechless, so I just declined and laughed uncomfortably. I had never had a patient behave that way with me, so I didn't know how to react at the time. Another student, let's call her Martha, gave me some tips on how to deal with those situations. At the end of the day, we had post-conference. Each of us talked about how our day went. Martha, who was right there with me when this patient was being inappropriate, told the instructor and the other students that she gave me some tips on how to be assertive because she felt that I was being passive.

    · During my first orientation shift on a certain unit, a nurse introduced herself to me, and we made small talk, trying to get to know each other a bit. She then told me about the unit and said that some of the nurses were very mean. She also told me that I look like someone with a very quiet and gentle personality, but if I show them that I can stand up for myself and not put up with their behaviour, they won't mess with me.

    · Management sat down with me one day and said that they were doing an investigation on bullying and that when talking to other staff members about it, my name often came up as someone who was being bullied. There was one nurse in particular who they heard was "bullying" me. I thought that the nurse was quite unpleasant with me, but I didn't think he/she was bullying me. I may be wrong, but I feel like the true meaning of bullying has been lost. Anyway, I told them that I am more on the sensitive side (which I am working on), so when people are rude or whatever, I always try and think, "Hey, maybe I'm just taking it too seriously, so let me try and forget about it." For this particular situation, I tried to tell myself that this nurse behaves that way to a lot of people, so it's nothing personal. The managers then said, "The fact that they do it to everyone doesn't make it okay." They said they would be able to provide me with strategies on how to deal with negative behaviour. I didn't ask them for strategies because I didn't really think it was a big deal. In hindsight, I think I should have anyway, because it would've been helpful for any encounters with "bullying."

    I always get mixed advice about this, anything from, "Don't worry about it, just be kind back" to, "Well, you shouldn't put up with people's crap." I'm trying very hard to let things roll off my back. I know that in this field, you have to have a thick skin and not react to every little thing you hear. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think developing assertiveness is more important for patient advocacy rather than standing up to someone who is always rude or talks down to people. Being assertive and advocating for a patient who I assess to be in distress to a doctor who thinks they are just fine, would take priority.

    I honestly don't know what to do. Truthfully, though, there have been times when I felt like I should've said something to someone who was downright nasty to me. I do think I need to be more assertive, but I sometimes don't know when to say something, or when to just let it go. Not being assertive in the right context can be a hindrance.

    Can anyone provide some insight on this? How do I go about being more assertive?
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    About nursiee

    Joined: Feb '18; Posts: 32; Likes: 22


  3. by   brownbook
    I agree with everything you say. The meaning of bullying is lost. I think you are mostly normal .

    I am very similar, let things roll off my back....coworkers admire me in putting up with irate doctors or patients, not letting it get to me. Does that mean I am not assertive? That I am being bullied? Because I don't let things bother me? I joke about it...tell coworkers a few hits of marijuana always helps me get through the day .

    However it was nice of management to offer strategies. It would do you no harm to go back to them, just say you had second thoughts, and ask what strategies they recommended. You may learn a few techniques to speak up for yourself when, if, the need arises.

    When a specific situation arises, where someone is downright nasty, it is easier for us All Nurses, to give strategies, advice, on how to handle it. I have gotten some good ideas here when I have posted a specific example of what happened..."what should I have done" type of situation.
  4. by   nursiee
    Quote from brownbook
    However it was nice of management to offer strategies. It would do you no harm to go back to them, just say you had second thoughts, and ask what strategies they recommended. You may learn a few techniques to speak up for yourself when, if, the need arises.
    Thanks for your response!

    I agree with you that it would be helpful for me to go back to them, but this meeting happened over a year ago, and both of them are no longer in management positions. They still, however, work in the same hospital. Would it be awkward for me to still ask them? Or should I just go to my current manager and ask for strategies instead?
  5. by   brownbook
    If it was over a year ago....maybe the issue, problem, is not as bad as you posted or as bad as you perceive? I love the slogan...perception is not always reality.

    There are hundreds of good sites on Google about how to be more assertive if you want some ideas. And as I said, if you can post a specific situation here we can diagnose your problem better and provide appropriate treatment .
  6. by   nursiee
    For sure, it wasn't that bad at all. I'm not "scarred" by it or anything I didn't intend for it to come across that way.

    I have searched on Google here and there for assertiveness strategies, but I will definitely spend more time searching!
  7. by   brownbook
    Sounds great, the word "yet" is my new favorite word.... I'm not assertive "yet".

    Every human being has character defects they are aware of and will be working on their whole life. It's usually, hopefully, two steps forward and one step back.