Conflict Management Styles

Conflict Management Styles

Conflicts take place in all places and institutions that are characterized with human interactions and the health care sector has not been left behind in this. Nurses play numerous roles including but not limited to giving care, educating and managing resources. In their responsibilities, they have encountered resistance from those patients, fellow nurses and even members of the interdisciplinary teams. Conflicts need to be handled in an effective and mature manner so that the sole purpose of patient care would not be compromised. Marquis and Huston (2015) assert that since professionals are involved in patient care, it will be prudent if they do not involve patients in the entire issue.

Conflict in the Operation Room

While on a rotation in the operation room, I witnessed a conflict between a surgeon and a nurse. The first patient had been prepared and was ready to receive the anesthetic. Unfortunately, the surgeon was nowhere to be seen. Word on the operating room had it that the surgeon was in the changing room but in real sense he was not there. After a few minutes wait, the surgeon was seen in the elevator, wearing street clothes and in had keys to his car in the hand. On arrival, a conflict ensured calmly and then escalates. The circulating nurse apparently shouts at the anesthesiologist and surgeon and threatens to report them for reporting late for duty. In return, the surgeon responds in an equal tone and words of abuse are exchanged.

Resolution of the Conflict

As could be observed, the scuffle did not benefit the patient at all. In any case, it delayed the operation that had been scheduled early in the morning. In resolving this dispute, a nurse leader would first establish the source of conflict before making the next move. It would be prudent for the nurse to review the conflict management styles so that she may be in a position to offer informed advice. In his article, Johansen (2012) narrates that managing disagreements in an efficient and effective way leads to improvement in quality, safety of patients, morale of staff and the caregiver has little stress to handle. The result is an improved patient outcome and subsequent reduction in the population disease burden.

In the case at hand, it would be prudent for the nurse to ensure both parties have calmed down. Conflicts are associated with emotional outbursts whose outcomes may not be beneficial to both parties. The nurse should maintain a positive outlook throughout the resolution phase. Meanwhile, care should be taken so that bias is avoided. These are all professionals who should be treated with impartiality. Each of the parties would be asked to suggest on the best possible solution before the nurse decides the way forward.

The nurse in the above scenario applied collaboration to end the feud.  In collaboration, it is not a win-lose situation but rather a win-win one. The problem is re-framed so that both parties may have a broader room to accommodate each person’s argument. The main obstacle in collaborating involves a lot of effort for the parties to reach a consensus. According to Shaun Williams, (n.d), the third party must establish trust between the two and avoid taking sides for the method to be successful. It could be seen that the doctor was on the wrong and so it would not be right to pin him down as it would lower his esteem in offering patient care. Other management strategies that can be utilized in managing such conflicts include compromising, giving in or accommodating, avoidance of conflicts and standing on one’s ground.


According to the Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode Instrument (n.d), conflict management strategies are directly related to the qualities of an effective leader in the sense that they help restore normalcy in patient care delivery. Without them, the entire health care system would be crippled as there will be a lack of techniques to unite those that disagreed over a minor issue.


CPP. (n.d.). TKI. Retrieved July 24, 2012, from

Johansen, M. L. (2012). Performance potential. Keeping the peace: Conflict management strategies for nurse managers. Nursing Management, 43(2), 50–54.
Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Marquis, B. L., & Huston, C. J. (2015). Leadership roles and management functions in nursing: Theory and application (8th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.
Chapter 21, “Managing Conflict”

Williams, S. (n.d.). Understanding conflict and conflict management. Retrieved from