Disruptive Behavior in the Workplace


One of the topics on nurses' blogs that consistently generates numerous responses is disruptive behavior in the workplace.

Nurses' blogs tell us that many nurses eat their young.

One of the topics on nurses' blogs that consistently generates numerous responses is disruptive behavior in the workplace. Disruptive behavior is any type of behavior that interferes with effective communication and/or negatively impacts performance and outcomes. Bullying and lateral violence (also called horizontal violence, horizontal hostility, and relational aggression) are two types of disruptive behavior that have been defined in different ways. The common thread among the definitions is that this behavior is overt or covert, directed against another or others, and intended to upset, threaten, or humiliate the recipient(s). In nursing, lateral violence has been defined as nurse to nurse aggression and commonly referred to as "nurses eating their young."

The anonymity of blogging has allowed nurses to share their experiences of being "eaten." There are far more accounts of nurses as victims than nurses as perpetrators, although occasionally a post will appear from someone who is clearly on the attack and unapologetic for attacking. While it is possible that nurse bloggers are exaggerating and fabricating their personal accounts of being verbally attacked and bullied, the sheer number of detailed blogs and responses on this topic suggest otherwise.

Student nurses wrote of many instances of feeling unwelcomed on patient care units and getting the "cold shoulder" from seasoned nurses (aka their role models). In varying accounts, hospital staff were rude, impatient, and condescending. Students received a large array of negative verbal comments and non-verbal messages of dissatisfaction from nurses on the units. In their posts, some of the students questioned if they should go into nursing or not .

One nurse wrote that it's not just students who are victims of bullying and lateral violence but new employees, men in nursing, young nurses, less experienced nurses, and older nurses returning to the workforce as well. The bottom line is that no nurse is immune. This nurse went on to write that on the day she resigned from a job in a hostile environment, she remembers feeling like she had been released from a womens' prison. The idea that lateral violence in nursing is a womens' issue is controversial and one that will be explored in next week's blog.

Source: Center for American Nurses. (2008). Lateral violence and bullying in the workplace.

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