Do you feel like you are not getting along with the other nurses at work? If you do, you are not alone. It is not uncommon for nurses to feel out of place with their co-workers. Sometimes, the hectic environment in a hospital setting might make it difficult to tell if a nurse doesn’t like you. Or, you might be new to the facility and people haven’t warmed up to you yet. Whatever it is – there may be signs that what you’re feeling is true. If you do realize that you aren’t getting along with your co-workers, continue reading below and check out our tips on how to manage various situations.
Signs You Aren’t Getting Along With Your Co-Workers:
Your gut is telling you something
Do you have a “sense” that something is off between you and your coworker(s), but you aren’t completely sure? Perhaps your gut is trying to tell you something. Maybe when you enter the break room your coworker(s) stop talking, face away from you, or avoid eye contact. Or, when saying good morning to them, they don’t respond with a good morning back. All of these situations can make someone uneasy and concerned. However, out of all the signs that a coworker doesn’t like you, this is possibly the most fixable situation you can be in.
They gossip about you
Not getting along with the other nurses at work is due to gossip that is going around. Unfortunately, gossiping at work is a common occurrence that happens in and outside of healthcare. Gossiping is common because it is easy to do and is a source of excitement that some people need to lighten a long work day. Although it is easy to gossip, it can be extremely damaging to someone’s reputation. If someone at work is gossiping about you, it is important to first evaluate how the gossip impacts you and then determine what approach will be best.
They go out of their way to interact or /criticize you
When a co-worker goes out of their way to interact with you (in an unfriendly/unwelcoming way) or criticize you, it can be extremely uncomfortable and makes for a toxic workplace. This might look like a nurse co-worker criticizing how you performed a task, even if you did it correctly. Or, a co-worker might bump into you or move your items in order to add more stress to your day.
They throw you under the bus
Unfortunately, in healthcare, mistakes happen and supervisors often want to know who is to blame. Sometimes, co-workers will throw someone under the bus for a situation, even if they aren’t responsible for it. If this is occurring in your workplace, then the only solution is to remove yourself from this toxic environment. Being thrown under the bus, or being blamed for something you were not responsible for, can jeopardize your work credential and have dire consequences.
Tips on What to Do if You Aren’t Getting Along with Your Co-Workers:
Identify your wants and needs
Sometimes fixing your work relationship with co-workers means re-evaluating and adjusting your expectations. Are you someone who expects friendship to blossom at work? Who thinks it is rude if someone doesn’t say hello back? It is important to acknowledge the expectations you have and put them into two categories – needs and wants.
You might want your co-worker to say hello to you, but you need your co-worker to relay important information to you. Once you have figured out what you need from your co-workers, adjust your interactions with them accordingly and evaluate how you feel. It might be helpful to participate in a continuing education course that is focused on improving necessary teamwork and collaboration amongst nurses. Check out this course to get started.
Reflect on social behaviors and identities
Consider the possibilities. What social behaviors do you have that come from a place of experience, culture, and other identities? Your co-workers may have identities of their own that are different than yours, and therefore may engage differently than you do.
Participate in the work culture
Is there someone or a group of people that your co-worker(s) get along with? Observe how they interact. Perhaps they have known each other for a long time and therefore trust one another. If that is the case, then maybe your work relationship with them will shift over time.
Or, maybe you’ll notice that co-workers often show gratitude to one another verbally or through socially acceptable gifts (ex: bringing in donuts for breakfast). Perhaps you are not getting along with other nurses at work because you haven’t participated in the work culture, yet. It might be helpful to show others that you want to be a part of the team by following along with any work culture practices you feel comfortable with.
Document what is happening
When co-workers engage in bullying tactics like going out of their way to interact with you in an uncomfortable manner, it is important to document this. Documentation can act like a form of evidence when speaking to work superior. You want evidence in order to prevent your co-workers from dismissing your concerns or lying about the situation. Documentation should be written, include the date, time (can be approximated), and exactly what occurred.
Speak to your co-workers and/or supervisor
Sometimes we think we are not getting along with the other nurses at work, when that isn’t true. It can be helpful to speak directly with your co-workers if you feel that they might be responsive to the conversation.
However, on the other hand, if you know that your co-workers are gossiping about you, you have three options:
- Option #1: Ignore the gossip and try to keep to yourself in order to prevent others from finding new things to gossip about.
- Option #2: Speak with your co-worker(s) directly. If you choose to go this route, it is important to evaluate if you are able to stay calm, be straightforward, and set boundaries. If you find that you have a short-temper, for example, this may not be your best option. Having this conversation might look like telling a co-worker that you don’t want them spreading information about you to other co-workers because it is unprofessional.
- Option #3: Speak with a work superior and inform them of the situation. Although this might not sit well with your co-workers, it provides the most protection and shows others that you will not tolerate gossiping.
Regardless of your decision, it is important to remember that gossiping can be dangerous and if someone is spreading inappropriate information about you, it is best to approach the situation in a way that will best protect you and your job.
Ultimately, the decision is yours
Not getting along with the other nurses at work can take a toll on your mental and emotional health. It is important to remember that we cannot control others, only ourselves. Although it may be desirable to want to work with people you get along with, sometimes that is not the case. It is up to you to decide how much you care about working well with others. Some people may find that having a supporting team is one of the most important aspects of their job, and will feel the need to find a new position somewhere else. Others might acknowledge that not getting along with other nurses is a part of the experience, and choose to stay. The decision is up to you!
Have you ever had difficulty getting along with a nurse co-worker? Share your story below and include any tips and tricks you have used to improve the work relationship.