Nurses being victims of workplace bullys.

Nurses General Nursing


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  1. Why do Nurses let themselves be victims of bullys?

    • Because Nurses, in general, are co-dependent.
    • Nurses, in general, want to be liked by everyone.
    • Nurses are, in general, uncomfortable with conflict and anger
    • Because Nurses, in general, lack assertiveness skills.
    • Because Nurses, in general, don't want to "rock the boat."
    • Because Nurses, in general, still buy into the Florence Nightengale mentality.
    • Nurses, in general would rather deny problems, not confront them.
    • Because Nurses, in general, want everybody to "get along."
    • Because Nurses, in general, are women who let themselves be "door mats."
    • In general, Nurses have low self-esteem.

86 members have participated


262 Posts

Uhhhh... I'm still trying to figure out why there are so many choices that say the same thing.

I know it considered bad form to point out spelling errors, but once and for all-- It is "Nightingale", not "Nightengale". I mean, she is our most famous nurse (admittedly, "famous nurse" is not a large group) so lets get the spelling correct.


195 Posts

I see the stats, now did anyone read and plan to use any of the suggestions at

and I agree, nursing is full of martyrs. this alone is a HUGE problem. I refuse to martyr myself or bully anyone else. My miseries need not be pushed on others, is my thinking.....and i won't be anyone's door mat either.


I hate face to face confrontation. The minute it happens my stomach churns into a knot and I get this wierd feeling like when I was a little kid when I got scolded. I was an abused child and had two abusive marriages. I have been happily married to my third hubby for 10 years and he doesn't have an unkind thought in his head, so I have broken that chain of abuse.

I was in real estate sales for over 20 years. When I started, I was constantly eaten alive by man eating bully agents. I had to pull my guts up from my boot straps and make myself stand up to them and talk back. The times that I have had to do that, it made me physically ill ... still does. Talking back with an abrupt, matter of fact demeanor has become almost an automatic defense mechanism for me. I don't like the kind of person that I have to become in order to get a bully not to cross me. I don't feel it is professional, socially acceptable behavior when I have to become so stiff backed. :stone

When it has been a situation where it didn't effect my client's wellbeing, I would just walk away, or if on the phone, bring the conversation to an end. I don't know how else to handle these situations effectively, or if there is another way.

I would like to change and am looking for other effective options for a kinder more gentle technique to use against bullying attacks. Thus, I would like to know how you, personally handle a bully. Thanks....

UM Review RN, ASN, RN

7 Articles; 5,163 Posts

Specializes in Utilization Management.
are you powerless against the BON? are you powerless against management?

Good grief, I meant "we" collectively, as a profession. I can't go anywhere without nurses wailing about how powerless we are.


257 Posts

hi allamericangirl. have u tried role playing situations that are uncomfortable for u? You could have your hubby play the part of a bully while you play u and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse until you are more comfortable and have some practise responding. If you want more specifics, send me a private message. good luck to u.


20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

I agree, role playing helps. Also remembering you are a person of value, as well. Going through life with the attitude that your thoughts, feelings, opinions matter as much as the next person is critical. And when a person begins picking on you, stop them cold early on. Tell them while you respect their opinion, you prefer they state it respectfully.

Look at your image and character honestly, taking stock. Be darn good at what you do, above reproach, so no one HAS the chance to "chink" away at you. Be honest, a person of unquestionable integrity. Model kind, caring, sincere behavior for all you meet, from the newest employee to the CEO, even to the bully. Be the example. Never, ever stoop to behavior that is beneath you like bullying or gossiping about others at work. The buck stops here, so to speak. People will notice and they will respect you. Respect goes a long way, soon even the bully can see this.

These are all ways I use to cope with bullies. Failing that, you need to remember, it is not ABOUT YOU. Many bullies, when confronted directly, will rise up and accuse you of being "looney" or "wrong". They are masters at projection. Many hate themselves or feel insecure and will project their imperfections onto you, to make themselves more powerful or feel better. Let them. Just do NOT believe it. You know better. Don't get drawn into their world of misery---stand your ground firmly and calmly.

I could go on and on. Like I said, I have dealt with my share of bullies in life and work. I think it helps to carry yourself with confidence and inner strength. If you cannot bring yourself to do that, you have some serious work to do. See a counselor or therapist if you find yourself the target of bullies frequently. You have a right not to be pushed around by ANYONE, you just need to believe it!


257 Posts

very good advise! While doing research about bullies/victims I came across a lot of articles about self-respect and self-esteem. People who have high self respect and esteem do not let themselves be targets of bullies. If there were no more victims, there would be no more bullys (or at the very least a lot fewer). If you are not a victim, then a bully cannot affect you. Also, if you overcome victim mentality than I think you can be of real help for those who still let themselves be bullied.


4,516 Posts

IHow many nurses here have stood up to bullies ie doctors...done so assertively...only to have managers and coworkers fail to back you up? Tell you that YOU are the problem? I think this happens more often than a nurse simply failing to stand up for herself. And going to a better place is not an option when the general culture of the area supports this and the area is employment at will.

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