Surviving workplace conflicts

Like questionable family members, some co-workers can be the worm that bores through a perfectly good apple and ruins it.

There’s always one.

  • One who wants to curry favor with supervisors and other workers;
  • One who’s trying to cover her own misdeeds;
  • One who wants to make your life miserable just because …

Any one of those types will have no problem throwing you right under the bus: pointing the finger at you for something that may or may not have anything to do with you, accusing you to absolve themselves; or acting out of jealousy. And if you’re the type that is slacking in your job duties, doesn’t know how to control your tongue, or is disrespectful to your job environment, then you’re the perfect target.

Unfortunately, I’ve spent too much time in manager’s offices – mostly because of certain nurses. One nurse pulled me into the manager’s office to lie about the details of the heated exchange she and I had had the night before. She thought I’d cower in the manager’s office just because she’s the one with the R.N. She didn’t count on me speaking up to politely call her a liar in front of the manager.

On another occasion, in the midst of a busy morning shift, a (white) nurse reported me to the Unit Charge nurse, saying that I looked like I had an attitude – basically because I wasn’t smiling that morning like I usually did. I’m not sure what she expected the outcome of that to be, but I had no problem telling the Unit Charge Nurse that since the nurse didn’t accuse of me anything else, that it sounded racial – that it seemed as though I, a black woman, should be required to wear a facial expression that was acceptable to the nurse in question.

The common denominator in these incidents and others is that neither person could make their frivolous accusation stick, they couldn’t accuse me of not doing my work nor could they accuse me of insubordination. I was never written up for anything and that’s because of a few reasons.

  1. I worked at work: I could always be found doing something for my patients; I didn’t text on my phone unless I was on break; and I didn’t need to be paged if I left the floor.
  2. I kept the rule book in mind: Every work place has it’s own set of do’s and don’t’s. I follow the rules so that no one has anything to hold against me.
  3. I never lied: I never said I did something I didn’t do; and if I forgot to do something I admitted it.
  4. I watched my language: I spoke my mind when I needed to, but I took care to keep it clean. No cussing, name calling, or loud talking.

Depending on where you work, there are many other criteria to add to this list. But I believe my adherence to these meant that no one could point a damaging finger at me. Not one nurse’s accusation ever got me written up, suspended or fired because without me screwing up in a major way, their complaints only amounted to personality conflicts.

The bottom line is, there’s always going to be at least one; one person who targets you for whatever reason. But if you’re doing your job, being a professional and staying calm, they won’t have a leg to stand on.

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