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Toxic behaviour in the emergency setting takes on many forms. Some are openly aggressive while others are veiled. We have all been ‘sent on a guilt trip’ or experienced shaming or belittling in front of other team members.
Emergency Nurse. 30, 3, 5-5. doi: 10.7748/en.30.3.5.s1
Published: 03 May 2022
Such behaviour has a negative tone, is self-centred and insincere and leads to feelings of inadequacy, despite qualifications, clinical competence and experience.
The person on the receiving end of this behaviour may not realise they are the subject until it has built up to the point where that person feels emotionally drained and cannot face the thought of spending another shift in the presence of a particular colleague.
The destructive dynamics of bullying mean that, as an emergency nurse, you are likely to feel undermined and nervous that whatever you do will be criticised. This can create disharmony, mistrust and a lack of cooperation within the team.
It is essential that emergency nurses recognise the negative intent of these toxic messages and know how to seek support early.
We must look after our workforce.
So, what should an emergency nurse do if they witness bullying or harassment towards a colleague or if they feel it is happening to them?
And would we recognise that we may be the instigator of toxic behaviour?
Many people who display bullying traits have significant unresolved psychological trauma due to an inability to process their traumatic experiences.
Acting out is often the way their controlling behaviour manifests.
Our Analysis article (page 6) draws attention to the negative impact of bullying and harassment among nurses in the emergency department and offers tips on how to tackle it.