Transforming Nurses' Stress and Anger: Steps toward Healing

By Sandra P. Thomas | Go to book overview
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Improving Interactions
With Colleagues

Man is but a network of relationships, and these alone matter to him.

—Maurice Merleau-Ponty, 1962

If we accept Merleau-Ponty’s premise, and I imagine that most of us do, it logically follows that the healing we need in our profession cannot be accomplished by each of us working on our anger management tactics in isolation. Healing takes place in relationships, and this chapter focuses on our relationships with colleagues—other nurses, supervisors, and physicians. There is disharmony in all of our collegial relationships, as so vividly shown in the nurses’ words in chapter 1.

We work in conflict-prone organizations. According to Stokols (1992), conflict-prone organizations are characterized by the presence of rigid ideologies, nonparticipatory organizational processes, absence of shared goals, existence of competitive coalitions, and prospects of unemployment stemming from economic changes. Given the current nursing shortage, nurses do not have to worry about unemployment. But RNs in many diverse practice areas will recognize the other characteristics in their organization and readily understand why the place is rife with conflict. Conflict erupts even during stable periods, because it is inevitable when humans interact. It is especially evident during times of rapid environmental and social change such as this.


One of the most disturbing aspects of our research data on nurses’ anger is the vehemence of their anger at each other. This nurse-to


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