Conflict Resolution By: Heidi YAtes

Causes of Conflict

According to Finkelman, "When conflict occurs, something is out of sync, usually due to lack of clear understanding of one another's roles and responsibilities (Finkelman 2016, p. 325)". Some of the causes of conflict are stress, not having a clear set of expectations to follow, questions about others performance, and changes that staff members are not prepared to handle (Finkelman 2016). The four stages of conflict are latent, perceived, felt, and manifest conflict (Winkelman 2016). The latent stage is where staff members anticipate a problem may begin, the perceived stage is when there is a conflict present, but it is not communicated, the felt stage is when staff members begin to discuss and have feelings associated with the conflict and the manifest stage is when the conflict becomes overt and actions are taken (Winkelman 2016).

  • Clear Communication
  • Set Expectations
  • Set Specific Roles
  • Make Responsibilities
  • Resource Allocation
  • "If the goal is to eliminate all conflict, this will not be successful because it cannot be done (Winkelman 2016, p. 326)"
Nurse-Physician Conflict

Nurses and physicians work together on a daily basis and conflict between these two medical professions is very common. " Conflict does occur and this conflict can act as a barrier to effective patient care (Winkelman 2016, p. 330)". Nurses and physicians must learn to effectively deal with conflicts in order to keep patients safe and provide high quality care to them. Some of the ways that the nurses and physicians can be a successful team are to keep open communication, respects each other, focus on each others strengths and responsibilities and work together (Finkelman 2016).


“In the interest of safe patient care, neither profession can stand alone, making good collaboration skills essential (Lindeke & Sieckert 2005)”. According to Gardner, it is essential that healthcare workers use the ten lessons below in order to collaborate effectively (Gardner 2005).

Lesson #1: Know thyself. Many realities exist simultaneously. Each person's reality is based on self-developed perceptions. Requisite to trusting self and others is in knowing your own mental model (biases, values, and goals). (Gardner 2005)

Lesson #2: Learn to value and manage diversity. Differences are essential assets for effective collaborative processes and outcomes. (Gardner 2005)

Lesson #3: Develop constructive conflict resolution skills. In the collaborative paradigm, conflict is viewed as natural and as an opportunity to deepen understanding and agreement. (Gardner 2005)

Lesson # 4: Use your power to create win-win situations The sharing of power and the recognition of one's own power base is part of effective collaboration.(Gardner 2005)

Lesson #5: Master interpersonal and process skills. Clinical competence, cooperation, and flexibility are the most frequently identified attributes important to effective collaborative practice. (Gardner 2005)

Lesson #6: Recognize that collaboration is a journey. The skill and knowledge needed for effective collaboration take time and practice. Conflict resolution, clinical excellence, appreciative inquiry, and knowledge of group process are all life-long learning skills.(Gardner 2005)

Lesson #7: Leverage all multidisciplinary forums. Being present both physically and mentally in team forums can provide an opportunity to assess how and when to offer collaborative communications for partnership building.(Gardner 2005)

Lesson #8: Appreciate that collaboration can occur spontaneously.Collaboration is a mutually established condition that can happen spontaneously if the right factors are in place.(Gardner 2005)

Lesson #9: Balance autonomy and unity in collaborative relationships. Learn from your collaborative successes and failures. Becoming part of an exclusive team can be as bad as working in isolation. Be willing to seek feedback and admit mistakes. Be reflective, willing to seek feedback, and admit mistakes for dynamic balance.(Gardner 2005)

Lesson #10: Remember that collaboration is not required for all decisions.Collaboration is not a panacea, nor is it needed in all situations.(Gardner 2005)

Ten Lessons in Collaboration: Author: Deborah B. Gardner (

*Top Ten Lessons listed above are direct quotes from Deborah Gardner Article*


When people are equipped with effective negotiation skills, conflict resolution is achieved successfully. The manager must find the proper time and place to address the conflict with the involved staff members (Winkelman 2016). Management should wait to address the conflict until each staff member has had a chance to de-stress and their emotions are in check (Finkelman 2016). According to Finkelman, the best strategies to use during negotiation are find a solution that works for both sides, separate people from their titles, allow time for each person to express their input, listen actively, establish trust/respect (Finkelman 2016).


When staff member are unable to reach an agreement during the negotiation process, they can use a third-party negotiator (Finkelman 2016). The third party is usually called a mediator and they are responsible for helping the party reach a resolution to the conflict without placing blame (Finkelman 2016). In order for this process to be effective, both sides must be willing to participate in this process (Finkelman 2016). "In mediation, the people with the dispute have an opportunity to tell their story and to be understood, as well as listen to and understand the story of the other party (Finkelman 2016, p. 334)".

“An agreed solution equals resolution, where all parties see themselves as winners; a positive consequence (Mckibben P. 103)".


Finkelman, A. (2016). Leadership and Management for Nurses: Core Competencies for Quality care (3rd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Gardner, D. (2005, January). Ten Lessons in Collaboration. Retrieved May 2, 2017, from

Lindeke, L. L., & Sieckert, A. M. (2005). Nurse-physician workplace collaboration. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 10(1), 5.

McKibben, L. (2017). Conflict management: importance and implications. British Journal Of Nursing, 26(2), 100-103.

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