Written by Peter Post

I am a nurse in a long-term care facility. On three occasions, I have had conversations with the director of nursing regarding client care issues on which we have differences.

She has then spoken to my colleagues about my "lack of judgment" and "rude attitude." I confronted her and told her that I felt our conversations should be confidential. What can I do to keep this behavior from recurring? I feel that I am working in an untrustworthy, non-supportive environment.

Perspective is often at the root of relationship issues. From your perspective, the conversations focused on your differences of opinion. Yet, when she talked to colleagues about your attitude, her perspective differed. You focused on the content of the conversations while she focused on how you interacted with her. You perceived her talking about your behavior as unjustifiable. I suspect she would excuse her action by saying she was trying to get their take on the situation. Talking about issues concerning one employee with others is a mistake many managers make.

Finally, you confronted her. You see yourself making a point while she focuses on your attitude. There’s no easy solution here. The director of nursing and the executive director are responsible for policies. You can try to clear the air by asking to talk with the director and doing so in a non-confrontational manner. Focus first on how you might have been perceived in previous conversations. Be willing to acknowledge that you didn’t mean to be rude or confrontational. Afterward, ask to meet to discuss your ideas. If they don’t change the policies, you will have to decide if you can follow them, or if you need to look elsewhere for employment.

Source: Post, Peter “Etiquette At Work” Boston Globe

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