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How to Handle Bullies in Nursing

How to Handle Bullies in Nursing

Marijke Durning | NursingLink

Bullies and Bullying

Physical bullying, the kind we often associate with the schoolyard, is not usually associated with workplace bullying, but it does happen. A hard “nudge” as someone passes you in the hall, or having objects thrown at you, are examples of physical bullying. However, in the hospital and on the job, it’s mostly emotional or psychological bullying that takes place.

Emotional or psychological bullying includes verbal abuse, threatening behavior, humiliation, intimidation, or even workplace sabotage. Bullying is a way to cause harm to someone, physically and emotionally. In 1999, the International Labor Organization (ILO) included bullying in their definition of workplace violence.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a bully as someone who is “habitually cruel to others who are weaker.” And it’s very easy to be cruel without being big and physically tough.

Not all bullies are as obvious as a physical shove, or abusive behavior. Some people bully without outwardly appearing like one. They pick their victims behind closed doors, singling them out as easier targets.

Why Do Bullies Bully?

There are many theories about why people become bullies. One of the most common theories is that bullies don’t have a lot of self-esteem. By picking on someone, whether it’s their looks, personality, or work ethic, the bully builds himself up.

Other research disputes this idea, arguing bullies have a healthy level of self-worth and bullying is just a way to gain power over someone else. Or, bullies may act out because they feel inadequate, weak, or incompetent, and are trying to put the focus on someone else’s shortcomings.

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  • Nerdynursebutton_max50


    over 3 years ago


    lateral violence is why I began blogging and is a huge barrier to the advancement of the nursing profession

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Chaotick, lol. I too experienced this. I loved my job. Nursing is my passion but unfortunately I ended up quitting that job. I couldn't take it anymore. I don't understand ppl. I always welcomed the newbies and helped them adjust. So anyway, I'm pretty ill find something better. ;-)

  • Thefatlady_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    This is why I don't want to be a nurse anymore. I like my coworkers, for the most part, but there seems to be one out of control b-word in every workplace I've attempted and, for whatever reason, I must have a giant bulls-eye on my back that makes them zero in on me. And the 'nice' coworkers don't want to 'get involved' (maybe happy not to be victim of choice). My sanity just isn't worth it.

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