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Why is there a Bully on the Playground?

Nurses Article   (17,096 Views 11 Replies 955 Words)
by Ahvegas Ahvegas (Member) Member

Ahvegas has 25 years experience .

4 Articles; 12,760 Profile Views; 20 Posts

Today we are faced with potential violence and anger in our workplace, just watch the news. Will we ever stop talking about it and change how we look at this issue? Perhaps we need to spend more time identifying its potential occurrence before it happens. Maybe we need to support its victims, hear their voice, and perhaps strengthen their voice and thereby growing our profession and thereby possibly decreasing staff turnover and increasing job satisfaction.

Why is there a Bully on the Playground?

There may be a few people reading this who have never experienced bullying. But, I'm pretty sure every organization of every type, has had to address the subject on some level. Just read or watch the news and you'll see where victims of bullying act out as a last resort, sometimes, resulting in extreme cases of violence.

As a nation, we had to fight to get where we are today, and we still employ the willingness to fight to stay there. Fighting is not new. However, in the workplace, it has apparently become so prevalent that policies have, and are being developed to deal with this issue. As a nurse, I've heard the phrase "eating our young" in so many leadership classes that it almost feels superfluous. I've been a nurse for 27 years and I ask myself 'how are we changing and growing as a profession if we're still discussing the same issues?' We identify it as an issue, but are we any closer to dealing with it? Does bullying play any part in job satisfaction or employee turnover? Do we owe it to our profession to look at these questions closer?

I would like to direct myself today in a slightly different direction...instead of looking at how to stop it; I want to simply try to understand what it is.

Can a person think they are always right? Do adults have bad moments and have adult temper tantrums? Does having a difficult personal situation cause someone to act out? I think the answer to all of these is quite simply, yes. But does feeling your always right, or having a bad day, or an occasional crying spell at work make you a bully? No.

I have worked with many people who thought they were always right. Some of those people were very eloquent at explaining themselves, and I respect them for taking the time to explain. Does that make them a bully, no? In the ever-growing field of healthcare, change is inevitable. We all get frustrated at times, and we try to navigate the safest and most effective options for our clients. This frustration sometimes bleeds into their interactions with one another. Does that make them a bully, no? A quick I'm sorry or 'I get it' has fixed those hurt feelings easily. I myself have shed tears at work as I have a mother with Alzheimer's Disease. There have been times where the drive was too short from home to work, or my mom hadn't eaten for days without choking, that triggered those feelings of sadness, loss, and feeling overwhelmed. I'm fortunate because these are the moments my coworkers are my family and take care of me by offering me a hug, allowing me a crying spell in the bathroom, or just listening for a few minutes as I vent. Does that make me a bully, I certainly hope not.

So what is a bully?

Bully: a cruel and brutal fellow; be bossy towards; discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering manner; intimidate.

I see the key words here being cruel and intimidating. Because bossy, really, I can live with; bossy: offensively self-assured or given to exercising usually unwarranted power. A person can easily be bossy without being a bully, it may be aggravating to deal with that on a daily basis but it is not something I personally would go home upset about. But cruel: able or disposed to inflict pain or suffering; and intimidate: to compel or deter if by threats. Wow! Those are powerful words! What drives a person to want to inflict pain or suffering in a threatening manner? Like seriously, who does that? And can you tell in an interview that they're like that? Or, if they're not 'like' that then, how do they become that? If we identify them, is there a potential to get them into classes about appropriate interactions and dealings with people. I think we need to recognize that there are people with great skill sets and poor people skills. How do we appropriately verbalize our concerns, or report bullying to a manager without coming across too 'soft' or too 'sensitive'?

One time, I witnessed a coworker call another coworker an idiot, in a group, in a mental health facility, in front of patients. Talk about cruel, it totally undermined this persons authority as a healer. I have personally experienced bullying in my past, by a leader. As a leader, she was put in a position by our direct supervisor to mentor me and guide me. All of which she did none of! Actually, she did the opposite, she would set me up for failure, not speak to me, and physically separate me from the person I was to be directly shadowing. And when I did speak to my manager about it, my concerns were dismissed, saying I wasn't there long enough to have any "concerns". I quit that job.

We've all read the research articles in our professional nursing journals stating being a victim of bullying can lead to depression, job dissatisfaction, psychosomatic and psychological concerns. When are we going to change our thinking from defensive to offensive? What can we do to foster a more supportive and nurturing environment for victims to speak up? As a profession, I feel we need to rethink how we deal with bullying. I feel we need to cast a wider net, not just look at how to handle the end result, but also how to identify it, how to report it, and most importantly, how to support its victims. We need our playgrounds back.

I am a BSN working in Pediatrics with a background in mental health.

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middleagednurse has 50+ years experience and specializes in nurseline,med surg, PD.

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I despise bullies, and I am so glad the nursing profession is addressing this issue.

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1 Follower; 51 Articles; 4,800 Posts; 93,263 Profile Views

I think that bullies are allowed to continue their behavior because the people in power above them allow it to continue.

When someone has a difficult work persona, one can sometimes figure out how to work with that. Because it is not personal, and is not reflective on the work at hand. The moment it affects the work that needs to be done, or directed at a person, or so outrageous that it takes more energy to deflect than the energy needed for patient care, that becomes and issue and a problem.

No tolerance needs to mean no tolerance. Period. And until that becomes a serious disciplinary issue, it will continue. Bullies intimidate everyone, they threaten everyone, they manipulate everyone. Including the powers that be. So the education and options need to be taught to the administrators, and the administrators need to consistently follow a specific protocol.

Bullies tend to think of themselves as indestructible and untouchable. Irreplaceable. And until someone in a position of power with the ability to actually derail that train of thought actually acts and disciplines the behavior, they carry on unscathed because they are allowed to do so.

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I'm finding that most people who bully tend to not even realize their behavior is inappropriate. To them, everyone else is mean or incompetent. There's a general lack of inborn empathy and a sense of "separatness" both self-initiated (as in being above the "mediocre masses"), and peer-driven as no one really wants to be around them.

There's also a sense of powerlessness that they desperately try to hide and that gets expressed in making *others* feel powerless.

There is of course those who consciously *know* they're are being deliberately and unnecessarily cruel. Those folks have serious issues, and that type of bully is a whole other animal; but I think the average, run-of-the-mill bully just doesn't know any better. Not to say what they're doing is okay or acceptable; they just don't realize they're bad apples.

Of course it's possible for grown adults to change their behavior, but it takes a lot of honest self-assessment that's often too scary for most. Having others point bad behavior out to them is often just viewed as people being mean and not understanding them.

I honestly think "getting them while they're young" is the best way to go. I feel the current anti-bullying campaigns that schools are leaping on falls short of solving the problem as they seem to just advocate "bullying is bad!" "Don't stand for bullying, be an ally!"

All well and good, but it does nothing to *identify* bullying behavior; or how most kids have actually displayed bullying behavior at some point in their short lives; or to offer alternate ways to deal with a situation where an inappropriate action may be the natural choice for some.

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KatieMI has 6 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in ICU, LTACH, Internal Medicine.

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One bullying boss in top Power = bullying will spread down to the bottom all over the place.

I told it before, and gonna to repeat: it will end, when there will be the law making PROVED incident of bullying equal to an incident of racial/gender/etc discrimination, with losing job, possibly professional license and possibility of personal lawsuit toward compensation of physical harm/moral suffering. If bullies know what they are risking, many of them will get second thinking, because what drives most of them today is absense of punishment.

I got stress cardiomyopathy as a result of vicious nursing bullying. Problem is, I had slight cold and a dental procedure done week or so before having first documented Vtach episode, which led to diagnosis. And that happened a whole month after I left that unit. So, although the diagnosis was clear, no expert will testify that the harm was direct result of severe stress. It could be viral, anesthesia-related, infection-related, etc. Apparently, if I just dropped dead and coded during one of those torturous "meetings", that would be the only one possible evidence. My fault, as usual.

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LadyFree28 has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Rehab, Trauma.

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One bullying boss in top Power = bullying will spread down to the bottom all over the place.

And it's sooo satisfying when said bullying boss has been removed from power. :yes:

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GadgetRN71 has 10 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Operating Room.

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Bullies are allowed to get away with it because they often make the manager's life easier..I have witnessed and experienced bullies making someone's work life so miserable that they finally quit. I have heard managers telling thir flunkies, "do what you need to do" regarding certain people. This is still a problem in nursing bcause administration/management rely on bullies to do their gruntwork for them.

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Not_A_Hat_Person has 10 years experience as a RN and specializes in Geriatrics, Home Health.

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Cue "bullying doesn't exist! Millennials are so spoiled!" in 3 . . . 2 . . .

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SmilingBluEyes has 20 years experience.

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Cue "bullying doesn't exist! Millennials are so spoiled!" in 3 . . . 2 . . .

Do you have that on copy/paste or something?

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Not_A_Hat_Person has 10 years experience as a RN and specializes in Geriatrics, Home Health.

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No, but it inevitably comes up.

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AutumnApple has 12 years experience and specializes in M/S, Pulmonary, Travel, Homecare, Psych..

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It is well documented how many new grads, upon experiencing nursing out of the classroom for the first time, feel school didn't prepare them for the realities of the profession.

School focuses on 'ideal' nursing practice where the patients, and the outcomes of said patients, are the focus.

The reality is different though because we practice in an environment where profits, not 'ideal nursing', is the focus. For many, there is such a contrast between what they learned in class and what goes on at their first job that they become intimately afraid and insecure. Fight or flight is triggered and unless they have a strong support system, ineffective coping develops.

The problem of bullying in the workplace thrives for the same reason. While we address the problem academically and socially, our hands often are tied. The bondage we are trapped in is the 'for profit' mentality we are forced to humor and favor over pt care.

Corporations deal with workplace bullying only to the extent that it protects their bottom line. Classes on prevention, counseling and workshops are not on their to do list. Much less expensive to send a hospital wide email stating it won't be tolerated, then fire anyone who creates a problem. Of course, action is only taken when and if the bottom line has been affected.

If you want workplace bullying to stop, measures to help the victims and bullies will only go so far. The institution that allows the problem to arise and chronically reoccur must be addressed as well.

Want to affect workplace bullying? Go after the corporation who allows it and refuses to address it. Laws that bring punitive damage to said companies will earn some very big strides forward in solving the problem.

To motivate for profit minded individuals and institutions, you must affect their profit. There is no shortcut around this.

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I have been a nurse for quite a long time & until recently I have never been subjected to bullying, bossy, yes I've worked with bossy. But as of about 6 months ago I am being bullied on a daily basis, I leave work crying, fear my days working with this NP and meetings have gotten us nowhere! She's the NP and can manipulate EVERY situation because the doc can't afford to lose her!, Me I'm the throw away! So as I type this I am actively seeking a new job after 13 years in a The same hospital so that I can continue to love what I do before I lose my love of nursing!

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