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3 Action Steps to Take if the Nurse Bully Gets Physical

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Jimmy Fallon gets a lot of laughs on the Tonight Show when he throws water in his celebrity guests faces. But what if something like this happens in the workplace?
As I travel the world helping individuals and organizations eliminate bullying behaviors, I talk with many nurses – and they tell me their stories about bullying. I then use their examples to help others who may be suffering too.
I thought I’d share one of the most shocking (at least to me) AND how I would handle this particular behavior and others like it.

CUP OF WATER
One nurse (I’ll call her Susan) told me she was sitting in another nurse’s “chair” documenting in the computer. This nurse (the bully) approached her and said, “You’re in my chair! You need to get up right now!” Susan said, “I’m almost finished. Just give me a minute.” But the bully kept yelling at Susan to get up until the bully threw a cup of water in Susan’s face!
What did Susan do?
Nothing. She got out of the bully’s chair. Why did Susan do nothing? She was probably so caught off guard that she didn’t know WHAT to do? And, it was in the middle of the night. It’s easier for bullies to get away with outrageous behavior at 2am than it is at 2pm.
What would I recommend doing if this happens to you?
Throwing a cup of water in someone’s face is considered physical assault and is grounds for immediate termination. If you are ever assaulted the way Susan was, first, protect yourself by creating distance between you and her. And then do the following:
1.     Contact the supervisor on duty immediately! Tell him/her you’ve been assaulted by someone and need him/her to come immediately.
2.     Quickly assess if anyone else witnessed the assault and ask them to document what they saw.
3.     Then YOU need to document what happened by actually filing a formal complaint. Be objective and identify any witnesses (even if the witnessed refuse to document). To read more about how to document incidents of bullying behavior, click here.
Now, as you read my recommendations, you might be thinking that if you do call the supervisor and document, that nothing will happen to the bully and then she’ll just retaliate against you.
You might be right. However, bullies use this fear as a weapon against you.
What if you exercised your moral courage muscles, called the supervisor, filed a formal complaint and the bully was actually terminated?
Then you’d be the hero.
We all need to do our part and stop allowing bullies to treat torture us and others.
Nurses should be kind – not cruel!

Thanks so much for reading. I’d love for you to share any examples YOU have regarding nurse bullying. Who knows. You just might help someone else by sharing.

Renee
About the author: Dr. Renee Thompson is a keynote speaker, author and professional development/anti-bullying thought leader. Renee spends the majority of her time helping healthcare and academic organizations improve the work environment. To find out how you can bring Renee to YOUR organization or nursing event, click here.

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5 thoughts on “3 Action Steps to Take if the Nurse Bully Gets Physical”

  1. Hi Renee:
    I have done some anti-bully groups at our local middle school.
    Hypnosis is a powerful tool for fighting back.
    I'd love to sit down and talk with you about doing Hypnosis groups for nurses (Healing the Healer)
    This is my passion (Hypnosis).
    It's my livelihood as well.
    I live 20 miles north of Pittsburgh.
    Thank you.

  2. Hi Renee:
    I have done some anti-bully groups at our local middle school.
    Hypnosis is a powerful tool for fighting back.
    I'd love to sit down and talk with you about doing Hypnosis groups for nurses (Healing the Healer)
    This is my passion (Hypnosis).
    It's my livelihood as well.
    I live 20 miles north of Pittsburgh.
    Thank you.

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