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DiversityNursing Blog

Conflict Resolution in Nursing

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Oct 20, 2017 @ 12:19 PM

The+truth+about+the+handshake.jpgWorkplace conflict is common across all industries especially in a fast paced and stressful field like Nursing. Conflict mediation can be complex and typically Nurse managers step in to help resolve the problem.

Acoording to, conflict is a disagreement between two or more people who differ in attitudes, beliefs, values, feelings or needs. It’s a part of every work environment, including healthcare organizations. The ingredients of conflict include:

  • Needs. These are essential to wellbeing; therefore, conflict can arise when needs are not met. Not to be confused with desires (what we would like), needs are vital elements.
  • Perceptions. People interpret situations differently. Misperceptions can cause a breakdown in communication, leading to conflict.
  • Power. How people define, interpret and use power can greatly influence conflict. Conflict may arise when one person seeks to influence or exert power over another.
  • Values. Values are beliefs that a person deems important. Serious conflicts can occur when people hold incompatible values.
  • Feelings and emotions. People often let emotions dictate how they react in a given circumstance. Conflict can arise when people let their feelings lead the way, or if another person’s feelings are ignored or devalued. It’s important to separate emotions from the issue.

Below are a few suggestions on how to best deal with workplace disputes and dilemmas.

Gather Info And Meet With Both Parties

Nurse Jenkins from says, issues are often brought up as a one-sided story, influenced with subjective data like emotions or perceptions. Other times, the issues presented may be missing essential information, such as objective data that can paint a clearer picture of what actually happened.

Make sure you do your best to understand the entire situation before reacting. In many cases, getting the whole story will help alleviate the conflict immediately, as the problem can be more clearly identified and addressed appropriately.

Journalist Susan M. Heathfield from The Balance, believes meeting both parties separately is unwise because Nurse managers run the risk of becoming biased to one opinion. The most effective way to resolve conflict is for managers to discuss the incident with both parties in the same room, affording them both an equal amount of time to state their case. This approach promotes fairness and balance, more effectively paving the way for a peaceful resolution.

Conflict Resolution Training

According to, an important strategy Nurse managers should implement is to hold conflict resolution training sessions for Nursing staff so that any minor conflicts can be resolved successfully by Nurses themselves. This approach is important because there will be times when Nursing staff has to work without the supervision of a manager. Training sessions could involve acting out hypothetical conflicts and then work as a group toward a resolution.

Hire The Right People For Your Team

An article by, says hiring people, especially in healthcare management and leadership roles who demonstrate a strong skillset in resolving and managing conflict is the first step in the right direction.

Effective healthcare systems management relies on hiring the right people for your culture and workplace. When hiring employees, consider whether they have a proven history of efficiency and teamwork. Ask questions around what they would do in specific situations involving conflict, and listen to the way they describe how they have managed similar occurrences they’ve dealt with in the past.

Conflict can’’t be avoided, but it can be solved. Although avoidance sometimes seems like the easy way out, facing conflict head-on in an appropriate and professional manner will lead to better relationships, a more productive work environment and empowerment. We hope these suggestions help with any future conflicts that may arise.

What has helped you solve a conflict at work? Comment below and tell us what has worked for you in the past.

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Topics: conflict resolution, workplace conflict

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