No, it’s not a bad dream, and neither have you gone back in time to seventh grade. Workplace cliques are a reality that we all must face… even in the NICU.

It can be hard navigating the playing field at times no matter if you’re new to the unit or a seasoned vet who might be on a new rotation. We all have that inner want to fit in, so here are five things you can do to adjust to workplace cliques and to find your own place in the mix.


1. Be friendly to all

Workplace cliques are known for their exclusivity and favoritism in the group. You can be different by being friendly to all members of the organization.

You are a leader within the unit as a neonatal nurse practitioner. By setting a positive example of kindness and friendliness to all, you can set your tone of a right work environment. Friendliness to everyone includes:

  • Housekeeping
  • CNA’s and Nurse Techs
  • Unit Secretaries
  • Lab and X-Ray Techs
  • Doctors
  • Fellow NNP’s
  • Nurses


2. Refuse to be pulled into the gossip

Dr. Brené Brown, in her SuperSoul Session with Oprah, said that gossip is a “hotwire connection for a friend.” She continues to talk about how gossip is not a positive connection, but rather it is “built on hating the same people.” She calls this counterfeit trust.

Instead of being pulled into relationships that are detrimental to other co-workers or friends, strive to avoid the gossip of others.


3. Stand up to bullying

Bullying has become a very notable topic in schools. These actions are not solely found in schools; they happen in workplaces every day. Belittling and intimidation are just some of many techniques that occur within hospital environments when the management has stepped away.

Relationship Counseling Center encourages that if you see someone being mistreated or talked about in an unkind way, to speak up and immediately discourage this action. Not only is this the right and kind thing to do, but it helps to send a message to other coworkers that this behavior is not acceptable.

When a demeaning comment about a co-worker is shared with you, a simple statement like, “I don’t know about that, but I do know this person to be very helpful and friendly,” can help defuse bullying.

Just remember: One kind and clear message can help prevent the escalation of workplace violence.


4. Model the right behavior

Not only can you avoid gossiping with others, but you can set the right tone by personally modeling the right behavior with these suggestions from Forbes Magazine:

  • Have lunch and breaks with all employees not just one group
  • Do not automatically join a clique within the first few months of a new job.
  • Do not react if other cliques target you.
  • Have other friends outside of work to keep your peer group healthy
  • Refuse to gossip about others


5. Seek guidance if you are struggling

Let’s face it, workplace cliques can be daunting to deal with considering you are there for many long hours, multiple days of the week. It can be emotionally overwhelming to figure out what to do and how to do it.

The more you can share with someone what is troubling you, the easier it is to have the clarity to know what to do. This advice can be from a counselor or mentor that works within the environment or even a licensed professional counselor if you are unsure of what to do.  

Remember, you are not without options or help. You can get assistance to navigate the difficult times of workplace cliques.


What strategies have you found to be successful in learning how to deal with workplace cliques? Shout out in the comments below.