Boss. Co-Worker. Preceptor. Colleague…

You name it; we’ve all had someone that we work with who we cannot stand to be around. Here’s an email I received from a nurse in Texas.

Dear Elizabeth,

Hi my name is Teddy. I’m not sure if you can help me, but I read your blog each week and I love your work. I am in a bit of a pickle. I want to get a promotion… in fact, I believe I should get one as I’ve been in my role for years now (and do a really good job). Anyway… I can’t stand my boss. I think that she is doing (and has done) everything in her power to get in my way. All I want to do is move up to the educator role on my unit… and I don’t think I can working under this witch (excuse my language). Anyway, I hope you can help me… What do you suggest that I do?

Thanks for your help,

Frustrated Floor Nurse

Wow. What a great question. And I can so appreciate the honesty from this floor nurse in Texas, as I am sure we’ve all been there and thought that too at one point in our nursing career or another.

Nursing Career Resilience: Tips to Enjoy Your Nurse Colleagues #nursingfromwithinWhen I was a psych nurse, I felt a good deal of animosity towards my co-workers. It was them who made it hard to work when they called out or showed up late. It was management’s problem for knowing about issues and not doing anything about it. It was the sending unit’s mistake for forgetting to tell us about isolation precautions. I blamed everyone around me for anything that went wrong.

Accountability for Our Actions

And since that time I have done a lot of healing, growth, learning and changing. I realize, after much inner work and self-reflection, that there is no one else to blame for the surroundings in my experience- except for me. The nursing career I find myself in, the place of employment I work at- everything- it’s all my own responsibility.

When we can ‘wake up’ and realize that we create our own experiences- through our thoughts, feelings and subsequent actions- then it becomes much easier to take ownership for our lives (the good, bad and the ugly).

Awareness of Our Thoughts

The very first thing we need to do in order to be more accountable for our lives is to become aware of our thoughts. What you think about you bring about and so getting a grip on the monkey mind that is our continuous and constant chain of thought patterns is the very best way to make any successful changes.

Instead of going about your job, without any awareness to what you think of or how you feel about it- pay attention during your week, day and even shift to thoughts that mull around inside of your skull.

Steps to a Shift

After you become aware of what is going on inside of your head, you may come to realize that it ain’t that pretty. And, guess what? That’s totally OK. Most of us have been programmed throughout our entire lives to be fearful, anxious and full of doubt. Even being around people who had our best intentions in mind and loved us with all of our hearts (think: parents), can create negative habitual thought patterns.

There is good news (great news, in fact!). You can change. We all have the power to do something about this. Once we are aware of our thinking and can stand up in a responsible way, taking ownership for the shift, it can be done. So to answer the question posed in the email above…

  • Nursing Career Resilience: Tips to Enjoy Your Nurse Colleagues #nursingfromwithinIt’s Not Them. It’s You. Now most of you reading won’t want to hear this. But guess what? It’s actually not the (boss/preceptor/professor/colleague/provider) that is causing you grief. It’s you. And your perceptions of how you think they ought to be treating you. How you want and need them to be towards you. So let me tell you this right up front: you cannot change another person’s actions. It is impossible to shift the behavior of someone else. You can only be responsible for you. Your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions. You are the reaction that is responding to the treatment that another person is putting out there. Which leads me to the next tip…
  • Learn from the Mirror Image. Have you ever heard of the fact that what we do not like about other people is often a reflection of what we need to work on within ourselves? This may be difficult to swallow, but it’s so very true. If you perceive your boss to be too controlling- guess what? You’re probably controlling in some aspect of your life. If you are annoyed by another person’s attitude in the workplace- it may be time to check your own. So how can we grow if we are seeing a lot of what we don’t want to experience? So glad you asked… on t the next suggestion.
  • Fill Yourself Up with Acceptance. The very best way to deal with a negative coworker (whichever level you find yourself being irritated by) is by filling your own self up with love, acceptance, joy and gratitude. You want to focus on all of the good things in your life. You want to raise your own vibration to an energy of acceptance. You want to be so full of love and light that you are no longer bothered by the idiosyncrasies of another. Make time each day to feel joy. Spend quiet moments reflecting on what you’re grateful for. Commit to focusing on appreciation and love. Find the good in you and you will begin to see it all around you.

I’d love to hear from you. What would you add to this list? How do you deal with difficult coworkers? In what ways have you coped with and shifted challenging work places? Thanks for reading and please share a comment below.

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN; Founder of Nursing from WithinAbout the Author: As a speaker, workshop facilitator, and Reiki Master, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of The Art of Nursing virtual conference, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver.

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN

“I’m a Nurse, but I’m Not Sure I LOVE Nursing Anymore! Can You Help Me?”


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