Conflict Resolution


ChamberlainCollege of Nursing

NR447: RN Collaborative Healthcare

July/August2016 Session


Conflictis a disagreement between opposing individuals or groups. There existthree types of conflict, interpersonal, individual, and intergroup ororganizational. Individual conflicts occur in the workplace mostlybecause of conflict in roles here is where the expectation of theroles assigned is not compatible. When a member of staff does notunderstand the role of others, or when the team feels that anotherstaff is doing work that is not their responsibility could bringstress to the organization (Finkelman, 2012).

Interpersonalconflict occurs between persons, caused by individual differences,including competition, personality, or concern about loss, control,and territory. When conflict occurs between groups, it is known asintergroup conflict. Conflicts happen when something is out of synccaused by vagueness in the description of responsibility and roles ofstaff (Finkelman, 2012).

Conflictis displayed overtly or covertly, with both bringing about problemsor opportunities. Covert conflict processes are difficult to describeand find, it is the behaviors that can be described. They arecategorized as, repressive, avoidant and reactive. Overt conflict isevident to most people. It is easier to arrive at an agreement when aconflict is present and understood. This kind of conflict if properlychanneled can lead to innovation and change, this view shows thatcontrolled conflict in an organization can bring about growth(Finkelman, 2012).

Conflictcannot be avoided, but it can be used to tap into the diversitypresent in a team. Variety in turn, allows individual members topresent their ideas to the team and understand its contribution tothe system (Finkelman, 2012). Some of the causes of conflict are,unfair sharing of resources, changes in routine that are notexplained, not clarifying expectations set, ambiguity, jurisdiction,communication confusion, conflict of interest and unresolvedconflicts (Finkelman, 2012).

Descriptionof Observed Conflict

Ina hospital I worked in, a nurse was assigned to a patient. Thepatient after regaining consciousness decided to sign himself out ofthe hospital, despite the nurse’s advice not to. The doctor incharge upon finding out that the patient had left, took her fury uponthe nurse. She scolded the nurse in public before patients, theirfamilies and staff, the nurse’s protests that she did not “letthe patient leave” fell on deaf ears. The nurse being scolded waswell respected by the nursing staff.

Asa result of the public outburst, other nurses decided to sabotage thephysician`s operations they would avoid working with her, and theywould pretend not to understand her orders. This eventually led topatient dissatisfaction with the physician`s care, and eventually thephysician was under review. The nurses would also spread rumorsaround that ruined the doctor’s reputation.

Thiswas a form of covert interpersonal conflict. This is because it wasbetween two individuals and was expressed in the behavior of thenurses, which was discreet in nature. The negative outcomes of theconflict were dissatisfaction of patients, negative review of thephysician, ruined reputation and, an uncertain career. The conflictwas unresolved because the stress between the physician and thenurses was never settled and it led to more trouble between the twoparties.

FourStages of Conflict

Thestages of conflict are, latent, perceived, felt, and manifestconflicts. Latent conflict is caused by inadequate communication orcompetition for resources, here is when conflict is anticipated. Thisstage is characterized by a lot of tension which is caused by, a unitnot viewing their colleagues of another unit as being competentbecause they accepted their patients but must still take orders, andpatient plans from them (Finkelman, 2012).

Theperceived stage is when people are aware of the conflict theyrecognize that it exists at that given time. People feel the conflictbut do not talk about or discuss it. Here, people perceive whetherthe conflict is valid or not, what is known about it and how it canbe solved (Finkelman, 2012).

Atfelt stage, individuals develop feelings of anger and anxietyconcerning the conflict. Stress is apparent on the employees. If theconflict is not addressed, it will not proceed to the next stage.When the conflict is avoided at this juncture, it will be covered andmay come up again more complicated. In this stage, staff trusts thatthe conflict will be resolved to allow them to air their feelings andopinions (Finkelman, 2012).

Thelast is the manifest stage it is where the conflict is aired. Theconflict may be constructive or destructive. Helpful responses toconflict in this stage are, encouraging nurses to determine andunderstand the problem, to express their feelings, and decide tohelp. Destructive behavior includes refuting a problem, eludingpeople, discussing of staff negatively, and ignoring a policy(Finkelman, 2012).


Conflictcan be resolved through accommodating. This strategy is used when youknow you are in the wrong, and it refers to yielding in order tosmooth things over. Often used when the source of conflict is of moreimportant to the other party of the conflict. This strategy should beused minimally because when overused someone may be seen asineffective and afraid to resolve issues (American SentinelUniversity, 2011).

Collaborationis a strategy of conflict resolution that involves assertiveness andcooperation when parties endeavor to join their perceptions and solvethe dispute. It is regarded as the best form of conflict resolution(American Sentinel University, 2011).

Nursesshould always strive to settle disputes among themselves beforebringing in the nurse leader. This would increase trust among thenurses. The nurse leader when addressing a conflict can delegate theresponsibility of solving the dispute to the affected nurses in orderto build their confidence (Finkelman, 2012).

Thecompromising strategy calls for both parties in a conflict torelinquish their high ground with a view to establish a common groundto develop an agreeable solution. The avoidance strategy is used toput off conflict entirely. By ignoring a conflict, one hopes that theissue will solve itself without the need of confrontation (Johansen,2012).

Whenresolving conflicts, the nurse leader should provide privacy forissues that are sensitive in nature. The use of problem-solvingapproaches should be employed, and the process should be tackled withunderstanding and not judgment. The final verdict should work towardsprevention of future conflicts (Finkelman, 2012).

Otherstrategies include, parties in conflict should avoid criticizing theother parties or denying the feelings that brought about theconflict. When trying to settle disputes objectivity should bemaintained, nurses should focus on the problem at hand and not dealin distracting issues (Finkelman, 2012).


Conflictwhenever possible should be prevented this is done by focusing onthe issues that cause conflict. Knowing what is expected of you,clear communication, fair allocation of resources, and definition ofresponsibilities will help avert conflict (Finkelman, 2012).

Leadersshould be able to identify conflict and deal with it in time beforeit causes stress in the work place. The stages of conflict serve as agood baseline for nurse leaders to determine the presence ofconflict. Under the latent stage, leaders should encourage nurses totalk about what is bothering them. Talking could help ease thetension between individuals or group (Finkelman, 2012).

Inthe felt and perceived stages, the nurse leader should address theconflict at hand before the results of the conflict occur. If theconflict does take place in the manifest stage, the leader shouldensure that it is expressed in a constructive sense and not affectperformance (Finkelman, 2012).

Inthe nursing field, interpersonal conflict should be avoided. Poorlymanaged conflict resolution could have an influence on patientoutcomes. Open communication, teamwork, and effective leadershipshould be adopted to reduce conflict. Conflict should be resolvedquickly in order to avoid patient errors and the loss of quality andefficient care (Finkelman, 2012).

Thenurse leader should be purposeful and insightful when resolving theconflict because it is directly linked to the safety of patients. Foran effective conflict resolution the following should be observed,dialogue should be initiated between the conflicting parties, nursesshould be coached on personal conflict resolution, the nurse leadershould always be out identifying potential conflict areas and work toavoid them, educating and training the staff on conflict (Johansen,2012).


Finkelman,A. (2012). Leadershipand management for nurses: Core competencies for quality care(2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson..

AmericanSentinel University. (2011, July 27). Explore the 5 Styles ofConflict Management &amp Resolution in Nursing. Retrieved from

Johansen&nbspM.(2012). Keeping the peace: Conflict management strategies for nursemanagers. The Journalof Excellence in Nursing Leadership,43(2),50-54. doi:10.1097/01.NUMA.0000410920.90831.96

Conflict Resolution




Conflictis a common in a clinical setting due to intense human interactions.Clinical staffs engage in various responsibilities as caregivers,leaders, and educators. The roles contribute to different kinds ofinteractions between multiple teams. The organization of a clinicalsetting increases the probability of conflicts. Variations in values,goals, experiences, and responsibilities have a great contribution tothe propensity of conflicts in hospitals. Further, competition amongclinical staffs and differences in economic values can contribute todisagreements. It is also considered that inability to work as a teamand poor interpersonal communication is a great contributor towardsconflicts at the workplace.

Thepaper seeks to explore strategies for conflict management in theclinical practice. Clinical leaders are spending considerable timeaddressing employee disputes. Inappropriate handling of conflicts hasnegative effects on employee morale, turnover, and organizationalperformance. In a clinical setting, conflicts affect the quality ofhealth services hence, jeopardize the attainment of positive healthoutcomes. According to Iglesias, Bengoa and Vallejo (2012), a clearapprehension of factors contributing to conflicts and resolutionmechanism can aid in the formulation of appropriate managementstrategies. There are increased reports of hostility and conflictamong caregivers in health care industry. The concern has raiseddebate on its implications on the quality of healthcare services.Studies indicate that there is minimal research on effective conflictresolution mechanism. Elaborate professional practices and cleardefinition of responsibilities are essential to avoid and manageconflicts in a clinical environment.

of the Conflict

Diversityamong the clinical staffs is a significant contributor to workplaceconflict. Within a clinical setting, there exist misunderstandingbetween various staff members due to differences in roles andqualifications. It is notable that physicians are regarded asdomineering within the profession. At times, lower-cadre staffs feelintimidated and disrespected by doctors. Ordinarily, physicians arehighly qualified compared to nurses. The nurses undertake significantresponsibilities in caring for the patients after undergoing anoperation. Further, the nurses undertake duties such as feeding thepatients, which are sometimes unpleasant. Their worries are augmentedby the fact that some patients are uncooperative. It is noteworthythat some nurses have a misunderstanding about their roles andexpectations in the course of their duties. Such disagreementgenerates conflicts between nurses and physicians (Hendricks &ampCope, 2013).

Additionally,physicians are taught to become leaders with high responsibilities inmanaging patients’ concerns. Members who want to have greatercontrol of the assignments are likely to cause conflicts because oftheir domineering attitude. It is appropriate to have rules that willgovern the contribution of every team member. Another concern is thevalue-based conflict where one party seeks to enforce self-values onanother. The matter can degenerate into a stressful work environment.Tension and miscommunication arise between clinical staffs, sometimesboiling down to the patients. If not handled properly, conflicts cancause workplace violence. Apparently, perspective towards conflictscontinues to change with some considering the matter as a naturaloccurrence. According to Hendricks and Cope (2013), conflictscontribute to negative impacts that affect both clinicians andpatients. Some of the notable effects include inappropriatebehaviors, poor patient care, and reduced organizational commitment.

FourStages of Conflict

Finkelman(2006) highlights several steps of conflict that helps inunderstanding the causes and formulation of appropriateinterventions. The first stage is the potential for the existence ofa conflict. It is sometimes regarded as a latent conflict whereindividuals or groups realize that their differences are likely tocause a conflict. In the assessment of a clinical setting, nurses mayidentify that they are being overworked or given odd jobs byphysicians. Still, physicians may feel that the nurses are notundertaking their assignments effectively to enhance patientrecovery.

Thesecond stage is the open conflict where deeds or actions of anindividual trigger unwarranted reactions from other parties. At thispoint, the conflict is real with the parties expressing theirdissatisfaction through inappropriate communication ornon-cooperation. Nurses, for instance, fail to adhere to theinstructions given by the physician. At this stage, more people getthe attention of the conflict. Negotiation is the third stage ofconflict where the seniors or supervisors seek to intervene byencouraging the parties to cooperate. In a clinical setting, theclinical leader may force a nurse and physician in a conflict toenter into a negotiation as a means to solve the matter. The laststage is the aftermath where parties enter into a peacemaking. It isa post-resolution stage where the parties seek to work together toavoid unwarranted consequences (Finkelmann, 2006).


Conflictresolution and management entails minimizing the negative effects ofa conflict while maximizing the positive outcomes. Conflicts arelikely to occur within groups or individuals. It is necessary formembers in a group to adopt the right strategies to resolveconflicts. There exist several approaches to conflict resolutionnamely avoiding, accommodating, negotiating, and collaborating (Chan,Sit, &amp Lau, 2014). The primary step is to understand the causesof the conflict by examining issues such as unwarranted behaviors andactions. Parties involved in a dispute may seek to avoid discussingthe matter despite knowledge about its existence. With time, theparties are likely to address the matter privately without affectingtheir responsibilities. Another approach is to accommodate the viewsof other individuals before self. Nurses seek to use the approach tosustain a peaceful work climate. Still, managers can use a competingstrategy to help in getting a faster decision to avoid adverseeffects arising from a conflict (Thomas, 2015).

Further,parties can get into negotiation to secure the interests of allpeople. The approach is longer but has better outcomes to bothorganization and individuals. Parties seek to attain a middle groundthat is agreeable to all sides. In a clinical setting, a clinicaladministrator may bring a nurse and physician to a negotiating tableto understand the causes of conflict. The intention is to identifythe solution towards resolving the conflict (Chan, Sit, &amp Lau,2014). The members need to improve their relations and environmentwithin the group to minimize incidences of conflicts. In conflictresolution, it is necessary for the members to examine alternativesthat have higher benefits to all members. By looking at the interestsof all parties, revitalization is likely to take place. The approachlooks at the both the negative and positive effects arising from theresolutions proposed to resolve the conflict. Members also need togenerate the right interventions that will govern the team to avoidconflicting occurrences in future. At times, nurses may utilize acomprise approach to resolve conflicts at the workplace. Nonetheless,the approach may not necessarily avoid the recurrence of conflicts.It is also recommended that clinical personnel adopt an accommodativeattitude to end conflicts (Iglesias, Bengoa, &amp Vallejo 2012).

Thedomineering members need to be reprimanded to respect the input ofother individuals. Members submitting work that is below standardsneed to be taught about ethics in undertaking their assignments.Parties should also be offered with an opportunity to recommitthemselves to the values that guide the team (Iglesias,Bengoa, &amp Vallejo, 2012).All members need to be encouraged on the importance of being open tothe affairs of the team. Personality conflicts within a team can beresolved through appropriate communication and understanding amongthe members. It would also be suitable for the members to comprehendthe values, contribution and beliefs of other members. Derogatorytendencies should be discouraged while the members using suchmessages should be reprimanded. The ultimate goal in conflictresolution within a clinical setting is to encourage cooperation aswell as enhance patient care.


Thereis a great need for deeper assessment of differences inconflict-resolution mechanisms in the academic and nursingenvironment. The move would help understand etiological factors thatenhance conflict resolution approaches. It is also necessary togenerate interventions that are tailored to suit the needs of a givenwork environment. Behaviors that cause adverse effects in a group arelikely to result in adverse outcomes. Conflicts arise, as the memberscannot easily influence the change of behavior on an individual. Itis also difficult to generate an alternative solution to thechallenges facing the group. Nonetheless, conflicts serve functionalpurposes that are beneficial to a group of an individual. They mayhelp in making members stronger, responsible, and rational for theiractions.


Chan,J., Sit, E., &amp Lau, W. (2014). Conflict management styles,emotional intelligence and implicit theories of personality ofnursing students: A cross-sectional study. Nurseeducation today,34(6),934-939.

Finkelmann,A. (2006). Leadershipand management in nursing.Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Hendricks,J. M., &amp Cope, V. C. (2013). Generational diversity: What nursemanagers need to know. Journalof advanced nursing,69(3),717-725.

Iglesias,L., Bengoa, B., &amp Vallejo R. (2012).Conflict resolution styles in the nursing profession. ContemporaryNurse,43(1),73-80.

Thomas,C. (2015). Identify conflict resolution styles used by nursingprofessionals working in clinical and academic settings of selectedhospitals and nursing colleges of Southwestern Rajasthan.InternationalJournal of Advances in Nursing Management,3(3),273-277.