How to Handle Bullies in Nursing
Marijke Durning | NursingLink
Start with a private talk with the bully; practice what to say and how to respond in front of a mirror, or role-play with a friend. Seeking a counselor’s help to find the right approach to take with the bully that fits your own personality is another option.
If confrontation doesn’t work, or if the situation gets worse, go up a level to the nurse manager (or higher if the bully is your nurse manager), or to human resources. Sometimes, other people have to intervene.
What Managers Can Do
Not all managers know how to effectively deal with bullying. They may choose to deal with it by not dealing with it at all, hoping the problem will resolve on its own. Or, they may approach it from the wrong angle, which could make the problem worse.
According to Vega, there are several things a manager can do to help end the culture of bullying:
1- Set the tone for the unit on what is acceptable behavior and what is not.
2- Enforce general policies and procedures that have been spelled out to the team. This would be through hospital-wide policies and procedures or with guidelines that were developed for the unit.
3- Educate the staff about lateral behaviors and identify what behaviors are considered bullying. (Ex: eye rolling, sighing, and ignoring someone.)
4- Make the unit a safe place for nurses to openly communicate. Build trust so that nurses know their concerns won’t be minimized.
5- Make themselves available to deal with the situation. This may mean holding unit meetings that involve role-playing, or discussing issues with nurses one on one. Being available to do these things is the key.
“What [managers] decide to pay attention to – or ignore – becomes the acceptable culture,” explains Bartholomew.
Bullying won’t go away on its own. Victims need to speak up, as do nurses who witness bullying. A bully who gets away with their actions is one that perpetuates the cycle of violence.