Many nurses are fearful of losing their jobs, retaliation, or being physically attacked. Some nurses are being isolated from the rest of the team, given assignments that are impossible to be managed within work hours, or being mocked.
Although it was not called bullying at the time, I have experienced similar situations during my nursing career. So, I understand how being bullied feels. It is a feeling of being alone or that no one really wants to help. In fact, in my case, other staff seemed to join in the FUN!
I didn’t know how to really get out of my situation nor did I know why it was all happening. I was young and naïve. I thought everyone liked me. I believed they wouldn’t get involved in such activity and wondered why they wanted to make me look bad. I hadn’t done anything wrong. I defended myself to my supervisors and defended staff. My supervisor voiced, “I don’t know why you keep wanting to do things for your staff when they are complaining about you.” My suggestion now is to be a responsive team member.
Communication is key.Communicate with your team members. Nurses know how important it is to be assertive for their voices to be heard. They understand the value of communicating with professionalism, politeness, caring and compassion. It is important to use these skills with co-workers as well as with patients. Everyone deserves respect. It facilitates open communication avoiding the isolation of others. This is true even when the ‘bully’ is being rude and controlling. Kindness is more productive, confident and respectful.
If you are confronted by a co-worker and the situation is uncomfortable, step back for a second and regroup. Look the bully in the eye and confidently state your position. Assume the leadership role in the conversation without putting the other person on the defensive. Use “I” statements. Speak calmly and clearly. Stay in ‘curiosity’ and ask for clarification. Use the “tell me more” approach. Avoid being confrontational.
If you need to excuse yourself from the situation to control your emotions and regain self-control then do so courteously. If you asked for more information then listen carefully to the response.
As Maya Angelou said, “The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination…”
My main point here is that communication is important in every interaction with family, friends, co-workers, and patients. Each of us has our individual perception of a situation and chooses a response based on that perception. As a participant in a communication we have the responsibility to make sure our message is heard clearly, specifically and with respect.
We have the obligation to listen to the other participants.
These actions put you in control and holding the power.
You can help move a co-worker or patient toward a positive outcome by being skillful in and knowing how to use the advanced communication techniques of powerful questioning and deep listening.
"The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own." - Benjamin Disraeli
If I had these skills as a younger nurse I probably would not have found myself in some of the situations I experienced or would have been able to turn them around. I have also figured out that those who were unable to help me probably didn’t even know how to themselves.
So, learning these skills, which are far beyond those we learn in basic education, is crucial to how successful we are in our practice.
How good are your communication skills? Leave a comment below.
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