Bullying between nurses, especially of those who are just starting out on the job, is incredibly common. Research shows that up to 85 percent of nurses have been verbally harassed at some point during the careers, and 1 in 3 bullied nurses has considered leaving the profession as a result.
In theory, it’s up to leaders and HR to deal with such problems at their facilities, but this often doesn’t happen. Then, the responsibility falls on nurses themselves. Luckily, simple techniques, shared during a recent Twitter chat hosted by Lessons from the Bedside, can offer some relief.
Ask for help — from your bully.
One nurse told a story of bullying with possibly the best ending ever. If you ask the bully to show you how to improve, you might create a relationship of respect and even mentorship.
A3 #TweetRN. Long time ago when I was a new ICU/CTICU nurse I had a physician who would challenge everything I would say. I invited him to come with me when I assessed his patient and give me points on how I could improve. He became a long time mentor and friend— Catherine Gegaris (@cgegaris1) October 8, 2019
Say one kind thing to a coworker every shift.
This is a freebie…— LessonsFromTheBedside (@from_bedside) October 8, 2019
We challenge you to say one kind thing to any co-worker every shift! In a profession that is often thankless let’s be the ones that lift each other up#TweetRN pic.twitter.com/LBcto4aa1o
Spreading positivity can you prevent burnout, your own and team members. In addition, research shows a simple “thank you” can boost nurses’ quality of care, overall performance and even their health.
Assess how often you practice bullying behavior.
Perhaps one of the biggest impediments to ending nurse bullying is that many people don’t realize when they’re responsible. The host of the Twitter chat shared a clear-cut resource for assessing whether you have bullying tendencies. Another valuable one comes from American Nurse Today.
We found an article written by @RTConnections on how to assess yourself to see if you have bullying tendencies… below is a screen grab from an assessment tool that is available from her article.— LessonsFromTheBedside (@from_bedside) October 8, 2019
There are many resources available! Would love for you to share with us#TweetRN pic.twitter.com/3sUv0Hiiss
A great preceptor taught me not to judge. You haven’t walked in that persons shoes. And it’s true, you never know what really happened in their shift. Assume good intent— AmandaGolinoCNS (@CnsGolino) October 8, 2019
It’s easy to assume that someone is bad at his or her job after making a mistake that you don’t think you ever would’ve made. It’s much harder — and more helpful — to remember that you don’t know what happened during their shift.
Reflect on why you’ve behaved badly, and apologize.
I was an ass to a new to the field nurse because I didn’t see she was being bullied by the nurse who’s currently on full terror mode at work.— IR Barbie, now in compact travel mode (@ummeowyn) October 8, 2019
I apologized, but it didn’t make her time in our dept any easier.
I’ve nitpicked other shifts and learned how immature it is. #tweetRN
One of the primary goals of the Twitter chat was to encourage nurses to analyze their own behavior and see how it could be harmful to others. Passive aggressive comments, negative statements said “in jest,” unnecessary nitpicking — it all can destroy a coworker’s morale.
How have you dealt with nurse bullying throughout your career? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Join the #TweetRN chat Mondays at 9 p.m. ET.