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Do you work in an environment that is swarming with incivility? If you work in healthcare, chances are your workplace is under attack! In most healthcare settings, incivility buzzes about like a swarm of yellow jackets—annoying some, frightening others and even stinging a few. But, just like a yellow jacket sting, just one encounter won’t cause too much damage. It’s the repeated stings that kill.

It’s the same with incivility. Most people can handle a few stings now and then. But, it’s the repeated “stings” you suffer from working in culture of incivility day-after-day, week-after-week and year-after-year that will kill you.

Incivility kills the spirit, the drive, the energy and the compassion that most healthcare workers rely on to deliver quality care to their patients. Incivility is chasing good people away from the field of healthcare just when we need them the most.

Some episodes of incivility are easy to spot. For example, you may actually witness a co-worker yelling at or berating another—or you may be a victim of such behavior yourself. But, other forms of incivility are more subtle and difficult to pin down.

These are the insidious “yellow jacket stings” of incivility: 

Using demeaning or disparaging language, gestures or behaviors.  Unfortunately, people can demean each other in many different ways, including speaking with the intent to belittle or degrade, eye rolling, giving the silent treatment and using sarcasm.

Example: Susan asks the receptionist if she has any messages from the doctor. The receptionist rolls her eyes, sighs heavily and replies, “If you have a message, you will know because I will hand you one of these cute little blue slips. Okay?”

Gossip and slander. Gossip involves spreading rumors or speaking negatively about another person. Making false statements intended to damage the reputation of another can be considered slander.

Example: Two co-workers are talking in the break room when their supervisor walks in. Because they know they will be overheard, they intentionally mention that they think a third co-worker is having an affair with someone in management.

Intimidation. People intimidate others by intentionally using fear to manipulate them. Intimidation may include yelling, invading personal space, throwing things, slamming things and losing one’s temper.

Example: The doctor asks Joe if his patient has had the physical therapy consultation that he ordered earlier. Joe says he doesn’t know but will check the chart. The doctor throws the chart at Joe and yells, “Here, go ahead and check it. But, I can tell you it’s not in there because it didn’t happen. You need to explain yourself right now!”

Sabotaging. Sabotage involves setting someone up to fail or intentionally creating a situation to make another person look foolish or incompetent.

Example: Julie does not like Vic. From the day he was hired, she has made it her mission to get rid of him.  One day, after the doctor writes an order for one of Vic’s patients, Julie intentionally moves the chart so that Vic will miss the new order and get written up—or fired.

Bullying.  A bully uses power to intimidate or harm someone.

Example: Rob and Bill are both candidates for a promotion that just opened up. They both submit their resumes and schedule interviews.  When Bill is given the position, Rob waits for him outside by his car. He tells him, “I’d watch my back if I were you. I don’t know what lies you told those people, but I should have gotten that job. If I ever find out you said something bad about me, you’ll pay.”

Offensive written communications. This includes emails, letters, notes, and social media messages used to inflict physical or emotional harm.

Example: Tonya updates her Facebook status one day. It reads, “I’m not naming any names, but a certain little blonde b**** who makes up the schedules at work is gonna get it if she puts me down for one more Saturday.”

Hate-ism (Rankism, Racism, Ageism, Sexism). Intentionally targeting a victim based on rank, age, gender, race or sexual orientation are all examples of profiling because of an “ism.”

Example: Sandra works in HR. She reads through, sorts and decides the fate of every resume and job application that comes into the facility. She doesn’t admit this to anyone, but she purposely “loses” applications from people with Hispanic sounding last names. She tells herself they’re probably illegal anyway and that they should just go back to their own country to work.

If your workplace is under attack by the swarm of incivility, listen in on the webinar:

How to Banish the Bully Who Wreaks Havoc in Healthcare.

This webinar provides the “insecticide” you need to combat incivility, restore your spirit and your compassion and create an atmosphere that not only supports, but energizes and inspires those who are in it!

And, remember!  To learn more about the book and civility training program that inspired this webinar? 

Go to:


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