What if the Nurse Bully Is You?

You may have come into contact with bullies in your life, and these same bullies could be nurses if they choose that profession. There are clear distinctions that determine whether or not a nurse is a bully, and it’s easy to find out who the bully is within a nursing unit.

However, it is more difficult to find out if you are the nurse bully. Many times, bullies don’t understand how much they represent the bully, and it can take other people telling them that they are the bully and reasons for thinking so before the bully fully understands how they could be the bully.

Here we discuss how to find out if you are the nurse bully, including questions to ask yourself and other things you can do to find out if you are the bully. Even if you aren’t a bully right now, it’s essential to understand what makes a nurse a bully so that you can keep your nurse unit productive and take care of issues that may arise before they get out of hand.

Questions to ask yourself

Before asking other people if you are the bully, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to find out if you might be the nurse bully in your unit:

  1. Has anyone told me directly that I’m intimidating? Being the intimidating nurse in a unit can be a sign that you might be bullying other nurses. Intimidation doesn’t work well in the long run, and nurses who feel intimidated commonly don’t work as well as when they feel inspired.
  2. Do I help some people but not others? Although you might be accommodating with some nurses, not extending your help to every nurse in your unit who needs it can be a sign of bullying some nurses. You can solve this by attempting to offer assistance to any nurse who needs it.
  3. Do I ridicule inexperienced nurses? Even if you are teasing or putting down inexperienced nurses at a low level, this can still be a form of bullying and can turn into further bullying. Ridicule doesn’t help nurses get better. Instead, consider teaching or lending a helping hand to nurses who need it.
  4. Do I enjoy confrontation? Bullies enjoy confronting people who they know they can dominate. In a nursing unit, do you enjoy confronting other nurses when you know you are the one who is correct in a situation? Instead of attempting to dominate in a confrontation, ask them if they need help or tell them that you are there for them if they need anything. You can get the same information across to them by answering a question rather than giving a demand.
  5. Do I feel the need to toughen up new nurses? Some experienced nurses find the need to display dissatisfied behaviors when dealing with new nurses. This “tough love” can be a form of bullying because you are taking extra measures to teach them when they could have been shown with a more positive approach.

How to find out if you’re the bully

Sometimes, it’s challenging to find out if you’re the bully simply by asking yourself questions. You might overlook some clear signs that you are a bully, and it can be helpful to ask an outsider. Here are three ways to help you find out if you are the nurse bully in your unit:

  1. Ask your nurse friend: Asking your closest friend or coworker in your nursing unit can be the perfect first step to finding out if you’re the bully. Ask your nurse friend to be honest with you. Ask them if they believe you are in any way a bully, and they will tell you what they see that you might not.
  2. Ask your nurse superior: Your nurse superior or boss can be an essential next step to find out if you are a nurse bully. While they don’t micromanage every aspect of your day, they will see a lot of what you do daily. Your nurse superior will feel better about telling you if you are bullying people because they are your superior and might be able to tell you about it without feeling that they could be intimidated by you.
  3. Ask a new nurse: A new nurse is more commonly the victim of bullying, and getting to know how a new nurse feels about you can be very helpful. Making a new nurse feel that they can trust you with the information they give you about whether or not you are a bully can help you understand how someone with “fresh eyes” views you and the situations within your unit.


No one likes a bully. Bullies in the workplace decrease productivity and commonly cause problems for themselves and others within a nursing unit. Being able to ask yourself some questions and seeking additional insight can help you understand if you are a workplace bully. The knowledge you receive can help you change your behavior so that you can help your nursing unit become more productive without any problems.

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