The difference between nurse bullying and incivility

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Nurse bullying and incivilityNurse bullying and incivility have been around for a very long time. While the public is often shocked to learn that nurses can be so caring and compassionate to their patients, they can be equally as cruel to their coworkers. Nurses eat their young is so commonplace, I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up in a dictionary!  Generations of new nurses heed the warnings and brace themselves when they enter into the profession. Most are able to get through their hazing fairly unscathed while others either quit, find ways to cope, or become the next generation of bullies (if I can’t beat them, I’ll join them).

However, we’ve been using the terms nurse bullying and incivility incorrectly for so many years that it has become common to refer to someone as a bully or that they are bullying a coworker when in fact, they are not.

Did you know?

  • There is no universally accepted definition for bullying in the United States. Terms are often intermingled.
  • Incivility is not a legal term with consequences, whereas harassment is.
  • Human resource/executive empirical literature seemed to list harassment more frequently than professional organizations definitions (perhaps because of the legal implications of harassment).
  • Out of 163 articles mentioning disruptive behaviors, there were 207 different unique terms that constituted disruptive behaviors. (Petrovic and Scholl) (NIH) (NCBI)
  • There are only 4 states with a workplace bullying law-only 1 state prohibits it.

Almost every day someone reaches out to me asking for help with a perceived bullying situation. However, not all bad behavior can be considered bullying. For the nursing profession to finally remove the terms nurse bullying and incivility from our common language, we first need to get crystal clear on the difference between nurse bullying and incivility and how they show up in the workplace.

Getting Clear About Nurse Bullying and Incivility

I’ve been writing articles about nurse bullying and incivility for over a decade. Here is a collection of articles I’ve written and videos I’ve recorded to help you and others clearly define what bullying is and what it is not.

What bullying is NOT

My manager is bullying me. My preceptor is a bully.  I’m being bullied because …on and on. So many of us complain that we’re being bullied when in fact, we’re not being bullied at all. In this article, you’ll learn what bullying is and what bullying is NOT!

Click here to read this article.

Disruption, Incivility, and Bullying: What’s the Difference?

In this article you’ll discover how to clearly identify if an employee is bullying someone or just being uncivil. Although incivility can lead to bullying, not all uncivil acts fit the definition of bullying. As a leader, you need to know the difference so that you can utilize the right strategies. As an employee, you need to know so that you can report appropriately.

Click here to read this article.

What if You’re the Bully?

As I work with healthcare organizations across the globe, I’ve learned that the bullies can’t be everyone else. We all have to look in the mirror and determine if WE might be the bullies or at least, in some way, contribute to bullying.

Click here to read this article to find out if you’re the bully.

Does Your Coworker Have High Standards Or Is She a Bully?

Having high standards is a good thing, especially in healthcare when the stakes are high. However, there is a difference, although sometimes not immediately obvious, between someone who has high standards and someone who is unprofessional, rude, and who may be bullying others.

Click here to learn how to tell if your coworker has high standards or is a bully.

Is Your Coworker a Bully or Just Having a Bad Day?

Working in healthcare can be extremely stressful. And, when human beings (even professionals) are under extreme stress, they can misbehave.  Well, how do you know if your coworker is truly a bully or perhaps they’re just having a bad day.

Click here to find out.

What’s the Difference Between Hazing and Bullying?

Sometimes more experienced nurses are really, really…really hard on new nurses. After all, being extremely hard, almost cruel, on new nurses is where the term, nurses eat their young, came from.  Some new nurses refer to the more experiences nurses as bullies while others say they feel like they went through a fraternity hazing. How do you know the difference?

Click here to find out.

Nurse bullying and incivility happen because they can. It takes dedicated nurses and their leaders to stop it. Now that you’re equipped with a better understanding of what bullying is and what it is not, you’d be better prepared to DO something about it. We are losing really great nurses to this problem. Isn’t it time we retire, nurses eat their young, once and for all?

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The Healthy Workforce Institute is the global leader in addressing disruptive behavior in healthcare. Through our cadre of services, we provide the strategies, skills, and solutions to address any incidences of disruptive behaviors that show up in healthcare.

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