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Behind Closed Doors: The Irritating Things Our Colleagues Do
8 ways our co-workers drive us up a wall.
Paula Watkins
Publish Date: March 31, 2015   |  Tags:   Opinion

I used to be a motivational speaker. My presentation was "How Not to Choke the Daylights Out of Someone Who Desperately Deserves It." A long title, an important workplace skill. Because sometimes our co-workers, those people we spend more time with than our families, can drive us absolutely crazy. Let's take a look at who needs a (hands-around-the-throat) hug.

  1. Seasoned nurses set in their ways. Just because you've done something the same way every day for the 30 years you've been working here doesn't make it the only way, or even the right way, to do it. Wake up! Some upgrades actually bring better results.
  2. New hires and per-diems looking to change the world. This isn't the last place you worked, and it doesn't matter how they did things there. We do them this way. Don't go trying to change things until we trust you know what you're doing. If you stick around and work hard, you can ask our opinion on policy changes or different standards. Who knows? We might even steal the credit for your great idea.
  3. Whoever pulled this last case. You need to pay more attention to the surgeon's instrument and supply requests. Especially since we know that he updates his preference card every time he shows up for work. Keep in mind that if you have it but he doesn't use it, you win. When he needs it and you don't have it, everyone loses.
  4. Colleague who oversteps her bounds. The co-worker who gave me a break earned my undying thanks — but there's such a thing as being too helpful. Like when I returned to find my back table and Mayo stand completely rearranged. "I moved a few things around, the way I like them," she said. "You can move it back if you'd like." I had to play "Where's Waldo?" just to find the pick-ups.
  1. Seat shiners. Maybe you know a charge nurse who never actually leaves her desk or office. She has no idea who's working or what's going on in any OR. She uses "delegation" to pass on her responsibilities to others. If you look at her chair when she finally gets up at lunchtime or the end of the day, you'll find it conforms to her fanny.
  2. The uncompassionate. I once warned a resident who was poking and prodding and discussing a patient as though she were a throw pillow not to touch my patient again until after induction. I'm ashamed to overhear fellow nurses judging their patients. Our responsibility is to assist in treatment, not to tsk-tsk their life-choices or roll our eyes at the situations they're in.
  3. The unkempt. Hey, scrub techs, sterile processing called. Please don't send blades down in the pans. Quick turnaround and hidden hazards don't mix. Also, if you make sure all the instruments are there when you send a tray down, you won't have to get cranky when we send up an incomplete set.
  4. Litterbugs. Note to everyone, from the lounge lizards: Would you mind picking up after yourself in the break room? You leave your trash everywhere but in the can. The half-empty cups of coffee you poured at 0600 are still there at noon. No one's going to wash your dishes just because you left them in the sink. Sure, we could tidy up the place ourselves, but we're kind of busy dodging other work.