PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of interpersonal relationships of head nurses in interacting with others in general hospital settings. METHODS: The data were collected by individual in-depth interviews from seven head nurses and were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. RESULTS: Five major categories emerged and they represent a major strategy according to five different groups of interacting people. 'Establishing trust' was identified as the key strategy in dealing with patients and family members. 'Embracing with sisterly love' and 'helping with self-defense' were major strategies for subordinate nurses and physicians, respectively. 'Respecting and recognizing' was the main approach for other professionals such as dietitians and 'emphasizing rules and educating' were a major one for non-professionals. Head nurses paid more attention and made efforts in dealing with their subordinate nurses than with other groups of people, because they felt the most difficulty in their relationship with subordinate nurses. CONCLUSION: The results of the study showed that head nurses employ unique strategies in interacting with different groups of people to increase the efficiency of communication. This study would help nurse administrators establish an effective program for improving interpersonal relationships of head nurse.