Bullying in the Nursing Industry Part II
If you’re here, I’d like to think you read through Part I of this series. If you didn’t, go read it and then come back. Bullying is not something to be taken lightly even when it involves full grown adults. Nurses need to know that bullying exists, why it exists, how to recognize it and what steps they can take to combat it. The latter two we will discuss right here, right now.
So! What DOES bullying look like if no one is pulling your hair, hiding your lunch, or tripping you in the halls? Would you even recognize the act for what it is? I hope yes, but the reality is that so many nurses don’t even realize when they’re the victim. They just assume it is what it is and this is how a medical environment operates. No. No. NO! If something doesn’t seem right, investigate. Bullying can come at the hands of managers, supervisors, charge nurses and fellow nurses who share the same medical scrubs uniform as you! Below is a list of some of the ways one can be bullied in the nurse industry. They are all unacceptable and must be recognized as such.
1. Physical harm-Self-explanatory in my humble opinion.
2. Withholding information– When someone enters the medical field they essentially dedicate their lives to helping other humans. If that is always end game there is no reason in the world for anyone, anywhere to withhold information crucial to your job.
3. Backstabbing– Once again, no matter where you stand on the totem pole of the medical hierarchy, we’re all a team, and teammates should never go behind another team member’s back.
4. Jokes or demeaning comments aimed at one’s ethnicity or race.
5. Humiliation– This is a tough one, because the bully does a fantastic job of getting you to believe that yes, you did indeed mess up and therefore deserved the barrage of insults thrown at you in front of all your coworkers. You are human. Humans make mistakes. But you are also worthy.
6. The silent treatment– It seems almost harmless compared to some of the others. But ignoring another person is one of the worst forms of bullying. It makes a person feel as if they aren’t even human.
7. Demeaning non-verbal behaviors– I’m talking eye rolling, sighing loudly whenever the victim says or does anything, smiling at everyone but the victim, avoiding eye contact with the victim etc.
8. Threatening– If anyone ever threatens to report you, or to have you removed from your job, or threatens physical harm; all for no reason, that is clear cut bullying.
And now we have the million-dollar question. What to do if faced with a bully? You can’t go crying to Mommy. Uh-uh. You’re a big girl now. But there are steps you can take to try and alleviate the situation.
1. First things first, you’ll want to keep a record of each incident and report it. Under reporting is a big issue among nurses. I get it; no one wants to be the one to make a fuss. But if you don’t say something then the bully will be free to bully so many more innocent nurses. HR is there for a reason.
2. Stand up for yourself. Call out the behavior for what it is when you experience it. So many bullies harness their power by feeding off the victim’s refusal to recognize the bullying and in turn do something about it.
3. Pay it forward by making the effort to compliment at least one nurse a day.
4. When engaging with the bully speak calmly, politely and confidently. Firstly, it always disarms the bully who expects you to get defensive and angry, and secondly if you do lose your temper it’ll automatically be used against you.
5. Try and put yourself in a position of control. If you’ll be working with the bully, tell them how you plan to go about accomplishing the task and end off with, ‘Is that okay with you?’ If you’re ignored, then repeat. The bully will either realize you won’t stand for this, and you’ll move ahead with the task, or if she responds negatively then you’ll simply state, ‘Let’s discuss this later,’ and leave the area.
Nursing isn’t an easy profession. Let’s try to make it easier on all those incredible nurses out there by promoting a safe workplace environment and educating ourselves and others on nurse bullying and how to combat it. If nurses can build each other up instead of tearing each other down they’d be able to accomplish so much more. Here’s to a bully free workplace!!