How to Resolve Workplace Conflicts

Whether at work or at home, conflicts happen. The difference is at home you have the opportunity to speak openly and transparently with your family. At work, conflict resolution can sometimes take on a political flavor. But whether it’s at home or at work, there are steps you can take to help resolve conflict and create a stronger workplace environment.


Too often when there’s conflict, it generates a great deal of gossip between individuals. People start to take sides and before long the entire situation can deteriorate until someone is forced to leave. Instead, consider just talking with the individual and arrange a time to meet when you won’t be interrupted. As you’re talking, focus on the behavior and events that occurred and not on the personality. In other words, instead of saying “when you do this .  . .” say instead, “when this happens. . .”


Listening skills are one of the greatest and most important skills you can develop in your lifetime. We have one mouth and two ears for a reason. It is more important to listen to what the other person is saying before formulating what you are going to say as opposed to reacting. Avoid interrupting the other person and allow them to finish speaking completely. If you have questions about what they said, ask them to clarify. As you’re talking, summarize where you agree and disagree, and then ask the other person if they agree with your assessment. Your ability to assess the situation and move forward will depend upon how well you listen.


Before you can make a plan to resolve conflict, you both have to agree on what needs resolution. For instance, you may have a conflict with a physician on the unit who you feel treats you with disrespect, but the physician feels you usurp their authority. Resolution can only happen when you both agree on what needs to be resolved.

No matter your position within the organization, every nurse stands in a position of leadership. Anytime you are in control of a situation, as you are when caring for your patients, there will be people who disagree with your decisions. Whether those individuals are therapists, patients or physicians, it’s important for you to understand how to manage conflict in order to reduce the overall impact on the unit and the patient.

Don’t avoid conflict resolution, but if you are unable to find a satisfactory resolution between you and the person with whom you’re having a conflict, it may be time to involve management. It’s important you both meet with that individual together. If the mediator meets with the individuals separately, it’s easy to believe the mediator is taking the other person’s side. Remember it’s not about winning or being right, you are working to resolve conflict in order to provide excellent care to your patients and develop a workplace environment that is enjoyable for everyone involved.

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