Nursing In Ghana

Working With Difficult Colleague Nurses And How To Deal With Them

There are a lot of things about nursing that your school, lecturers, and books might not have warned you about. Aside from difficult patients, there are also difficult nurses.

Whether it’s stress or just their personalities that make them difficult to deal with, here are a few recommendations you can use to respond better to the situation and their personalities.

#1: The Complainer

What you should do: Avoid taking things seriously.

Your co-worker’s behaviors and actions in the hospital are reflections of what goes on inside her and not of you. She may be acting like that because she’s experiencing some issues at home or she could be just as tired as you are.

If she snaps at you about a small problem, you can just acknowledge what she said. Acknowledgement doesn’t necessarily mean you agree, but it’s a good way of showing your co-worker that you understand her, her point of view and where she’s coming from.

If she starts complaining about her schedule or her patients, acknowledge her feelings and excuse yourself. As simple as that.

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#2: Mr. Know-It-All

What you should do: Limit your words.

Talking back and persistently reasoning out can’t do the situation any good. As a matter of fact, the more you talk, the harder the situation becomes to resolve. Instead on focusing on words, you need to be more aware of your actions. Pick your battles to avoid spending unnecessary energy.

Choose your words appropriately when conversing with this coworker. Use direct and concise statements to deliver your point across. You should also set a time limit on how long you’ll be discussing the issue.

“Sometimes, not talking is better than talking. If you keep on supporting your opinion, it just puts the other person in defensive mode and the argument will just go on and on. Problems aren’t solved that way,” a veteran nurse explained.

#3: The Bully

What you should do: Establish boundaries.

Yelling and shouting should not be tolerated, particularly if you are in the presence of your patients. These actions limit the credibility and the authority of your hospital and those who work inside it.

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If such incident happens, simply remove yourself from the situation. Assess the capability of your co-worker to engage in a constructive discussion first before confronting her. Approaching her when she’s still enraged can only lead to more problems.

#4: The Gossip

What you should do: Lessen complaints and gossips.

Constant complaining and gossiping will only make your working environment more negative. Instead of digging a deeper hole, try to be more proactive in finding a solution to the problem.

It’s not necessary that you exert effort on changing the person, but it could help if you can give her the opportunity to express herself, without people talking behind her back. Bullies are often victims of bullying, too. If you’re going to make her feel like she needs to defend herself to everyone in the area, the more likely she’ll snap and spread gossip about everything and everyone.

#5: The Backstabber

What you should do: Exert more effort in knowing your co-worker.

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Making your colleague feel isolated and neglected will only make matter worse. Instead of leaving him behind, you can invite him over to lunch with your other colleagues or to your next dinner party.

Creating a sense of belongingness can help lessen his need to backstab anyone. Once “the backstabber” feels that he’s an integral part of the team, the less time he’ll spend in destroying it.

“We usually set an annual date for team building activities. I believe these opportunities allow the nurses in my area to get to know each other well. Since we started this tradition, there were fewer reports of workplace misunderstandings,” a head nurse said.

How do you handle a difficult co-worker? Did some of these insights apply to your situation?


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Jude Arko

Chief Editor - Nursing In Ghana | Mental Health Nurse | Photog | App Developer

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