What If the Bully Is You?
Looking in the mirror and taking responsibility
A few years ago, I did a workshop for nurse leaders on the topic of bullying and incivility. About halfway through, a woman in the back of the room — let’s call her Martha — stood up and proclaimed, “I’m the bully.” Although her assistant managers, who were sitting on either side of her, quickly leapt to her defense,
Martha pointed to the list of bullying behaviors I was projecting and repeated, “I’m telling you. I’m the bully. That’s me up there.” Finally, her colleagues both admitted, “Yes, you are, but we’ve been too afraid to tell you!”
Studies estimate that between 73 and 93 percent of all nurses have either experienced or witnessed bullying in the workplace. That’s a lot of victims — and a lot of tormenters.
Who are those bullies? Sometimes, the answer is “We are.” Each of us only sees the world through our own eyes, which means we often fail to consider that we might be part of the problem.
Only by turning the mirror back on ourselves and objectively considering how we are perceived, can we recognize and transform our own toxic behaviors.
The first step is to be honest enough to consider your own behavior, and whether it contributes to bullying and incivility in the workplace. Here are three ways you can do that.
Do a self-assessment.
Ask yourself the following five questions: