How to Tackle Nurse-on-Nurse Bullying

It’s common knowledge that bullies are mean, manipulative and moody. But do you know what to do when the bully is your boss?

Bullies exist in every workplace, but when nurses harass other nurses their harmful behavior can also affect patient care and safety.  

Bullying is described as acts perpetrated by one in a higher level of authority, according to the Center for American Nurses. Workplace bullying includes verbal abuse and offensive conduct such as work sabotage. Abusive behavior from your supervisor or colleagues can make you feel like you are walking around with a bull’s-eye on your back. Being berated repeatedly by a co-worker erodes confidence, leads to mistakes, breeds burnout and affects your health.

So how do you fight back without mimicking the bullying behavior? Here are steps to take to deal with abusive behavior on the job:

Speak up. Don’t suffer in silence. Ask for help. Go up the chain of command. Report the harassment to human resources if you have exhausted all recourses.

Learn your organization’s policies about bullying.

Keep your emotions in check. Bullies enjoy making you lose your cool. Remain rational.

Protect your health. Take care of yourself to deal with on-the-job stress. Make time to engage in a hobby or an activity that relaxes you. Eat well, exercise regularly and get a good night’s sleep. Doing so will help you better cope with the negativity at work.

Write down everything. Document incidents and problems. Save emails and other correspondence. Do not leave this information at work.

Keep interactions professional. Limit your encounters, if possible.

Create a supportive network at work. Having colleagues to talk to can minimize stress. They may also serve as witnesses.

Confront the bully.  Doing so may send a message that you are not an easy target. When standing up for yourself, try not to act like a bully with your response.

Nurses need a supportive work environment. Do your part to make sure bullies have no place on the job.

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