How To Deal with Workplace Bullies

CNAs are low on the healthcare totem pole. Many have experienced workplace bullying from nurses and others in the medical hierarchy. If this describes you, you’re not alone and powerless.

Here is a look at how to deal with bullies on the job.

It’s Not Just You, and Not Just Nursing

More than 95% of American workers report bullying incidents on the job. It’s not just one time for most. In a study of over 2,000 employees, almost 90% said it occurred for more than a year and for over 50% it was at least five years.

The form it takes varies, but it involves hostile and repeated actions and comments that hurt emotionally and psychologically. The results can affect your emotional and physical health.

But you’re not powerless. Here is a look at ways to defeat a workplace bully.


It turns out mom was right. When a workplace bully verbally attacks you, simply ignore her unsupported accusations and rude words. Don’t stoop to her level. Part of the fun for the bully is getting a rise out of the target. Don’t make it easy for her.

When attacked, be polite and detached. Answer legitimate questions and get back to your job. Perform your duties with competence and a sense of emotional centeredness. This works best when you get support from friends and coworkers. Let them know when you need reassurance.

Consider talking to a therapist if you are having trouble eating and sleeping. As a professional, she can help put the situation into perspective and give you back your sense of power.


Plan to confront your bully if this is a continued behavior. Practice beforehand what you will say to her. If possible, role-play with a friend. Pick the best time, when you are rested and feeling at least somewhat in control. Don’t do it in front of patients. In fact, try to corner your tormentor when she is alone.

Confrontation doesn’t have to be in your face, aggressive or even loud. Calmly and clearly explain what she has done that bothers you. Tell her it is unacceptable. Be firm and let her know you are creating a paper trail and that you will use to register a formal complaint if this continues.

Get Help from Management

As a nurse and a worker, you have rights, from the level of the hospital or healthcare facility right on up to the U.S. Department of Justice. That might seem intimidating, but you need to realize that workplace bullying is not right and it’s not legal.

First, understand the policies and procedures at your workplace regarding bullying. Then start documenting each occurrence as it happens. Include the date, time, names of witnesses and where it occurred. Be objective when you write up what happened. Try to include direct quotes from the bully and from witnesses, if possible.

If your tormentor keeps harassing you, take your list to management. If you don’t get help, keep going up the supervisor chain of command. If you still don’t get help, then consider seeking legal assistance.

Be proactive when dealing with a bully. Seek the support of friends, management and therapists. Call the bully to account for her behavior. Always remember the problem is them, not you.

Crystal G

Crystal is a certified Registered Nurse (RN) with a passion for writing about nursing education. Through her articles, Crystal shares insights and tips to help fellow nurses enhance their skills and stay updated with the latest developments in the field. With a focus on practical advice and relevant topics, Crystal's writing is a valuable resource for nursing professionals seeking to advance their careers.