1. Laskowski-Jones, Linda MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CCRN, CEN

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Picture this scenario-you've boarded a very full flight and made your way down the aisle. Fortuitously, right over your seat is an opening in the overhead storage bin with just enough room for your bag if you rearrange some items. That done, you start to lift your bag into the spot you cleared. Mid-heft, a big burly guy elbows in and tries to shove his bag into your space with a sneer that says, "What are you gonna do about it?" That was indeed the question I confronted on my trip to Montana last month.


Now I'm a petite, 5-foot tall female who seemed easy prey to Burly Guy. But what happened next was purely primal. With icy control, I blocked his path in the aisle and said, "Well that was a slick move. That's my seat. And that's the spot I cleared in the overhead. My bag is going up there." He eyed me long and hard, waiting for some sign of surrender that never came. Right then he decided that I was going to be far more trouble than the whole thing was worth. Burly Guy and his baggage moved several rows back to his assigned seat.

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Settling into the flight as the adrenaline slowly dissipated, my thoughts turned to bullying. It's older than human history and pervades the animal kingdom. Even fish aren't immune. My husband and I once had a large goldfish in our pond that bullied all of the other fish-until the bully met an untimely end at the hands of a raccoon. Karma, perhaps?


Bullying threatens civilized society. It undermines relationships, personal growth, culture, and safety. Bullying can also be subtle, like a malignant growth that silently kills. And in all cases, it's silence that gives bullies their strength.


Troubling research indicates that bullying remains all too common in healthcare facilities: See "Abusive Behavior Still Disrupts Hospital Care" on page 21. If you're a nursing leader, addressing bully behavior is challenging because so much of it is subjective and intangible. But you know it when you see it. Don't tolerate it-act on it. The message is, "Be nice or leave."


If you're a nurse on the front lines, don't join in or sit idly while someone else is being bullied. What you allow, you condone.


Never underestimate the power of peer pressure to establish a healthy, bully-free culture in your workplace. Always take the ethical high road-it's the path to a better world.


Until next time-


Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CCRN, CEN

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Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2010


Vice President, Emergency, Trauma, and Aeromedical Services


Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.