Communication Skills/conflict


Hi Peter,
I am about to start a new position in a busy medical centre as a novice nurse aged 40. During my interview I was asked specific questions along the lines of communication and how I'd address the problem of a work colleague randomly yelling at me in the workplace. I had been interviewed after hours and didn't see the nurses in action until today. I saw many nurses coming to see me being the new nurse. I was asked several personal questions eg. Did I have kids, do I like beer? How old was I? I also listened very carefully and realised there is perhaps some issues in place already. One nurse complained about another nurse stating she was lazy. Another complained of patients who spoke Arabic. Another said she was the 'bitch' and another said she was the agro nurse.

I have dealt with conflict in the past and had my share of bullying but need some advice  on how I can avoid any problems as I really want to do well. I am concerned as it felt like I was among hens in a chicken pen waiting for them to peck at me! Any advice on some practical ways to protect myself from negative colleagues so I can get on with the job and still be liked would be so helpful.

Hello Kim - for effective communication in any setting, patiently learn to practice the seven skills in this free online "lesson"

For an overview of helpful options, see this:

Specifically, define your rights as a dignified person, and use them to assert youir opin ions, needs, an boundaries:

This is a lot to absorb, so take your time with it. Few of your coworkers will know these things.

Good luck! - Pete  

Communication Skills

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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about how to significantly improve your thinking and communication effectiveness, and your relations with adults and kids. I cannot answer legal, medical, grammar, punctuation, spelling, or spiritual questions.


I have studied and taught communication and relationship skills for 40 years, and have been a professional family-systems therapist (MSW) since 1981.


I am a past Board member of (a) a large suburban community mental-health center and (b) the Stepfamily Association of America, and I am a current member of the National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council

I have published 6 books, including one on communication skills: Satisfactions ( 2nd ed., 2010); and over 150 articles in the nonprofit educational Website Break the Cycle! -

I have also published articles for and over 150 educational YouTube videos.

BSME, Stanford University, 1959 MSW, George Williams College 1981 Clinical internship U. of Illinois Institute for Juvenile Reasearch (IJR) 1981 Over 100 post-grad courses on a wide range of human-relationship topics

Past/Present Clients
over 1,000 self-referred Midwestern-U.S. adults, kids, couples, and families

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