R.N. Q&A #1: Changing someone's opinion of you

Registered Nurse Q&A

Dear Robb,

A new nurse is going through Orientation on my unit, and confided to me that her peer reviews have not been good and she feels she is being set up to fail. Consequently, I know she has lost her self-confidence; so she had a meeting with her Manager & Nursing Educator & she said that she was told to change the Staff's perspective of her. I am not quite sure what to tell her or how to help her as I feel that this Group has made up their minds about her & no longer want her as part of the Team (most have been in this position since they became RN's 25 to 30 years ago).  I am in an awkward position!!

Please explain your opinion on, "Changing The Staff's Perspective of You!"

Respectfully yours,


Dear Jeanette,

How gracious of you to be looking out for this nurse - it really shows the kind of person that you are. 

I am asked variations on this question frequently ("How do I make them like me?" "How do I make them respect me more") as this is something a lot of us struggle with. As a coach, my goal isn't just to give you an ibuprofen to dull the discomfort, but to help you think about the problem in a way that could empower you to heal the source of the pain on your own terms. 

If the question you are asking me is “How can my friend change the perspectives and opinions of the other nurses”, then strictly speaking, my answer would be that she can’t. What they think and feel and do is 100% up to them, so if she is spending her energy focused on trying to change them, she is setting herself up for a lot of disappointment and frustration and wasted energy.

When she thinks “I am being set up to fail”, then she is likely to feel discouraged and helpless, less likely to relate to her co-workers in a positive way and more likely to come across as stand-offish or irritable or desperate. By focusing on them and what they think, she is disempowering herself and is instead empowering THEM to be in charge of how she feels, and how her day goes, and this is a recipe for a great deal of struggle. 

Now if this sounds bleak, don’t worry, because there is a better solution! :-)

What I would recommend is that she focus instead on herself, and what she wants of herself, instead of what she wants of them. I would guess she wants to like her job, or be good at her job, or something like that. Then she could think of the things she could do to make that happen. Clearly depending on her peers to make her like her job or be good at her job is not a useful strategy at the moment. But surely there are things she can do. Study pertinent protocols or lab values, prepare for common tasks, practice her skills. She can see to her own self care, so that she comes to work recharged and ready to take on the challenge. Rather than trying to get her peers to like her, she can focus on liking her peers.

If she focuses on being the best and most competent nurse she is capable of being, she gives herself a goal that she is 100% in control over. 

With that goal, now she can focus on herself, which is something she is in control of. Even as she is learning, she can feel great that she is doing her best, and can be aware of her own progress as she is focused on getting the results she is in control over. 

The good news (and the irony) is that in focusing on being a great nurse, she is more likely to increase her self-confidence AND to earn the respect she wants from the other nurses at the same time.

It seems counter-intuitive when you are focused on the goal of changing someone else, but this is often how human behavior works. By taking charge of how she shows up as a nurse and as a peer, she is most likely to exhibit the behaviors her peers want to see from her.

Also, I would encourage her to remember that her self-confidence does not come from her peers, it comes from her. She is going to have very different results if she is thinking “My co-workers are making this too hard and I don’t know how to make them like me more” than if she instead goes to work everyday thinking “This transition is hard, but I am a nurse, and I can do hard things.”


Finally, just because her manager gave her the goal to “change their perspective of you”, don't let the semantics there throw you. What I am recommending will give her the same result her manager wants, but just changes the focus of how to get there to one that empowers her instead of empowering others. 

I hope this helps! If she is interested in hearing more, I do offer free 30-minute coaching calls, she can sign up HERE.

Thank you for the question, and have a great day!


Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question for me you can SUBMIT IT HERE.