Karen was thrilled to receive an award at work for her excellence in nursing care. She had been a nurse for more than 20 years and this was the first time she was recognized by the leadership team. Her manager announced Karen’s award during a staff meeting and she was honored at a lovely afternoon reception.
Karen was beaming with joy and pride!
However, over the next few weeks, Karen started to notice that her assignments were really heavy – alcohol withdrawal patients, difficult families, isolation patients, etc. While she was running around going crazy, many of her colleagues were sitting at the desk, chatting. She thought it was her imagination until she overheard a conversation between the charge nurse and a colleague that shook her to her core.
The charge nurse was deciding whom to give the ICU transfer to. Apparently the patient was a “hot mess.” Karen heard the charge nurse say, “I’ll give him to Karen. She’s such a big shot now that she won that award. Let’s make her work for it.”
Karen became the victim of the #1 deadly sin causing nurse bullying. Karen was a victim of ENVY.
I was visiting my sister Tina and attended church services with her and her family. Pastor Ron talked about envy as one of the 7 deadly sins. The entire time I listened, I couldn’t help but to see the connection between envy and nurse bullying. It was clear that envy is alive and well in the nursing profession too and a primary cause of unprofessional behavior AND nurse bullying.
What is envy?
Envy is when we want what someone else has, i.e. new car, vacation property, award, etc. and RESENT them for having it. At the core of envy is a feeling of unfairness – I am owed this and I’ve been cheated. Or, I deserve this more than this person.
What if you just think these thoughts but don’t act on them?
Make no mistake about it…Envy is a violent emotion. We may not intentionally attack the person outright but envy will find it’s way into the way we communicate, interact, and make decisions – all of which impact the work environment AND patient outcomes.
Envy makes us competitors and as competitors we have trouble seeing each other as colleagues who are all working together to achieve a common goal.
Envy poisons every relationship, every work environment, and every profession – including the nursing profession.
What’s the antidote to envy?
1. Name it
When you start questioning someone’s accomplishments or downplaying them, catch yourself. And then say, “I’m feeling envious of her ________.” Recognizing your feelings of envy and be the beginning of healing.
2. Trade malicious envy for motivational envy
If you are envious that your colleague got an award or an advanced degree, use it as a motivator instead and GET UP AND MOVE! Do something positive that will move you towards the same or a similar accomplishment.
3. Celebrate with them
Be thankful for their blessings because when one of you succeeds – you all succeed. The more you celebrate the success of others, the greater the reward for all. Be a part of the party.
Envy is a relationship destroyer and has no place in a profession dedicated to caring and compassion. What should have been a very proud and fulfilling time in Karen’s professional career turned out to be a painful and stressful one.
We are all humans capable of envy (me too). But by recognizing our envious feelings and taking positive action on them, we can start the process of building a professional, supportive and nurturing nursing culture.
Has envy been a reason why you have been treated poorly? I’d LOVE to read your comments about this topic.
Thanks so much for reading. Take care and stay connected!