Today in the chart

5 Responses Guaranteed to Shut Down Nurse Bullying as Soon as You See It

Nurse bullying will only truly disappear when every single nurse makes an effort to eliminate it.

Even if you’re not part of the 85% of nurses who a fellow nurse has abused, you’re still probably aware that bullying among healthcare workers is a pervasive problem. Perhaps you’ve heard that one in three nurses has considered quitting a job due to bullying, or you’ve seen it at your workplace.

Regardless, nurse bullying will only disappear when every nurse tries to eliminate this problematic culture. A simple but not always easy way to get involved is by standing up to bullying when you see it.

How to confront nurse bullies?

Here are some strategies from one of the foremost experts on this topic, Renee Thomspon, DNP, RN, CMSRN, CSP, founder of Healthy Workforce Institute.

Name the behavior.

Respond to the problematic individual by explaining precisely what they did without sugar-coating and in a matter-of-fact tone. For example, “You just called me an idiot in front of patients and family members.” Often that’s all it takes for people to realize how absurd their actions were, Dr. Thompson says.

“I’m not willing to respond to that.”

This double-pronged approach shows the bully that the behavior is off-putting while also allowing you to remove yourself from what is likely an uncomfortable situation.

“I’m not sure if you’re aware, but sometimes you can come across as….”

This strategy is less aggressive because it reframes the problem not as the individual’s deliberate choice but as a communication issue. It also still lends to open, honest conversation. Don’t forget to provide an example of the troubling behavior early on.

“It’s been brought to my attention that… Is this true?”

This is especially effective if you’re in a management role and must confront one of your employees. For extra emphasis, Dr. Thompson recommends placing your hand over your heart when you say, “Is this true?” That way, your body language shows how unprofessional and rude you find the behavior.

“I never want to find out that you’ve done something like this again.”

Again, if you’re in a leadership position, you must tell your team members exactly what you expect of them so they can’t make excuses in the future.

Mistakes to avoid
Justifying the behavior.

Dr. Thompson notes that managers often overlook bad behavior because the perpetrator is good at their job. This may seem like a passive approach, but in reality, it actively encourages nurse bullying to continue.

Addressing a bully in a big group.

To maintain a healthy workforce culture, Dr. Thompson stresses that you should speak to individuals who are bullying in private. Leave staff meetings out of it.

Not documenting enough.

The more you document problematic individuals’ behavior, the more likely you’ll be able to hold these bullying employees responsible, whether through termination or something less severe.

Calling out nurse bullies can seem scary, especially if you’re worried about retribution or convinced your employer would never address the problem. Just know that consistently standing up for your values will have many long-term positive effects on your workplace and your own moral fortitude.

Subscribe to our M-F newsletter
Thank you for subscribing! Welcome to The Nursing Beat!
Please enter your email address