How to Talk to Your Nurse Manager: 8 Strategies

by | Apr 5, 2022 | New Nurse | 1 comment

Nursing is a profession that comes with many challenges and tough moments. Nurses experience all types of emotions when working in this field. There are days that you come to work feeling like it’s your lucky day, and there are also days you want to lock yourself up in the bathroom with a bottle of wine (just kidding but not really).

One situation that causes stress among nurses is dealing with managers or team members. Of course, we don’t want any conflict between us because it’s not only distracting; it can cause tension in our relationships, which will tremendously affect our work environment. Dealing with high-stress situations and learning how to talk to your nurse manager, though, is inevitable in this job. So what do we do? Let’s dive into this together.

how to talk to your nursing manager

What is a Nurse Manager?

A nurse manager is the head of a nursing unit. She is responsible for directing, planning, organizing, and evaluating the operations of an assigned area or department of health care delivery to ensure optimal patient care. If you are working as a nurse, the nurse manager has more perspective than you and has more knowledge in this field. So, when you happen to deal with her, we need to show respect and cooperate to succeed in our careers.

8 Different Ways to Talk to Your Nurse Manager

Following are some different ways to approach your nurse manager.

Be Polite 

When giving your input or feedback (e.g., performance review), be gentle but firm enough that you get your point across without hurting anybody’s feelings. If there’s a problem that needs correction, allow the nurse manager to do something about it before raising your concerns with others such as HR or any other higher authority who may ultimately have a say on disciplinary actions against a nurse manager or employee.

Although nurses typically don’t consider themselves very sensitive people, we need to understand that everybody has their own personality. Some nurses may be more touchy than others. Show some empathy and understanding of the nurse manager’s position by being polite and approachable. Don’t use offensive language or words even if you’re talking about your bad day at work with them.

Be Patient

A nurse manager can help you out if they want, but this doesn’t always happen right away. If there is something they can do, they probably will, but they have other patients to take care of too, so let them do their work. It may take a little time for them to make things better for you, so don’t lose hope in your career yet, especially when it seems like everything is against you.

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Be Cooperative

You can’t get what you want in some facilities unless you go through the nurse manager. A nurse manager usually has connections with higher-ups, and they’re in a good position to make things happen if they want to. If your boss cannot help you, then ask them who the next person you should talk to about this problem or situation. Just don’t end up annoying that person because that won’t help anyone out! In other words, getting a few heads together is more efficient than going at it alone.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Nurses need to have good time management skills, which prevent unnecessary conflicts from arising due to lack of communication. Things can go wrong very quickly if nurses are not on the same page, so always consider each other’s time. Please don’t wait for problems to happen before you discuss or agree on how you’re going to solve them. Being proactive also means that you should never assume anything unless your manager tells you otherwise.

Be Cautious

Our work environment is already stressful enough; that’s why certain lines shouldn’t be crossed regardless of what kind of relationship you have with the nurse manager. Don’t undermine their authority by suggesting ideas or giving unsolicited advice about how they should do things because this will make them feel belittled and distrustful towards you. Just because they are nice to you doesn’t mean that you can trust them with sensitive information or personal thoughts. Remember, they are still your boss at the end of the day.

Always Do Your Best

This means always to try your best when dealing with patients and coworkers, don’t waste time in front of the TV or social media sites in the nurse manager’s office, report all safety concerns even if they aren’t in violation of regulations, complete necessary reports accurately and on time, etc. There are certain things that nurses should do no matter what kind of relationship they have with their manager. 

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Try to maintain a positive attitude because nobody likes working with negative people, especially when they have difficult personalities. Always seek professional help whenever needed because it is important for nurses to take care of their own mental and physical well-being and that of their coworkers.

Be a Good Nurse

Being a good nurse is very important because this will make people respect you more, even outside the workplace, including your manager. They will notice how much patient satisfaction goes up whenever you’re around, which makes them happy as well. Also, if you get yourself out of difficult situations with patients or other nurses, you can be sure that your manager will notice.

Do Not Become Overly Familiar

It’s okay to have a casual conversation about work-related issues but don’t let it get too personal, especially when they are still your boss. Remember, this is just an informal social interaction, so certain boundaries need to be respected, including not letting them know too much about your private life or asking highly sensitive questions. Please don’t call them by their first name unless they permit because this crosses professional boundaries. Also, avoid getting too close to them outside the workplace because it will make things complicated for both of you in the future!

Learn the Art of Communication Skills

Communicating effectively is a great help in all areas of your life. Good communication skills in life will ensure everyone around you understands you and knows them. As a healthcare professional, you have to practice these skills often, so it’s important to hone them as much as possible.

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Learn effective communication skills so you can become a better nurse in general! No matter what kind of relationship you have with your nurse manager, certain things are expected from all nurses to do no matter what. It’s always good to build bridges instead of walls when it comes to communication for everyone to be on the same page.

How to Talk to Your Nurse Manager Video

Ending Thoughts

When you have a bad relationship with your nurse manager, you must try to take responsibility and apologize when needed. If you’re having difficulty finding common ground, then take some time off or consider giving someone else a shot. It’s not advisable to work in an atmosphere where people aren’t happy, and teamwork is compromised.

More Resources for How to Talk to Your Nurse Manager:

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    Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

    Hi, I’m Kati.

    Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

    Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.

    1 Comment

    1. Charlene Riley

      Yes but what do you do when your nurse manager talk to you like a dog and doesn’t respect you or your decision.


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