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Lecture Notes for Conflict

I. Conflict

A. Definition a clash or struggle that occurs when a real or perceived

threat or difference exists in the desires, thoughts, attitudes,
feelings or behaviors of two or more parties.

B. Types
1. Intrapersonal inside or internal to an individual
a. Tension or stress as a result of unmet needs,
expectations, or goals
b. Conflict over two competing roles
Ex: A parent with a sick child has to go to work
Ex: Patient needs teaching, but nurses assignment
doesnt allow time for it. (when other priorities

2. Interpersonal
a. Between two or more people (2 nurses, doctor and
nurse, nurse and charge nurse)
b. Values or styles do not match
c. Misunderstanding or miscommunication

3. Intergroup or organizational conflict

a. Between two or more groups
Ex: Hospital nurses in conflict with central purchasing
if supplies are defective or do not meet nurses needs
Ex: ANA and AMA when AMA to decrease the nursing
shortage advocated RCTs
b. Caused by style of management, rules, policies and
procedures, and communication or lack of

II. Situations or Sources of Conflict

A. Power clashes loss of control


B. Breakdown or misunderstanding in communication


C. Different goals

D. Different values

E. Lack of resources

F. Role competition
1. Role ambiguity employee does not know what to do, how
to do it, or what the outcomes must be (unclear policies and
2. Role conflict two or more individuals believe certain actions
or responsibilities belong exclusively to them (nurses and
social workers) or an individual may wear many hats causing
conflict. This can cause decreased productivity and job
dissatisfaction leading to burnout.

G. Personality clashes

III. Positive and Negative Outcomes of Conflict

A. Positive
1. Binds a group together
2. Serves as a safety valve for hostility
3. Promote growth through innovation and creativity
4. Opens new channels of communication
5. Provides impetus for change
6. Energizes people
7. Helps individuals understand one anothers jobs and

B. Negative
1. Frustration
2. Can decrease quality of care
3. Job dissatisfaction

IV. Approaches to Conflict Resolution

A. Avoiding or withdrawing from conflict

1. Dont acknowledge a problem exists
2. Use this when
a. There is more to be lost by addressing the conflict
b. There is no time to gather adequate data
c. When the problem is only a symptom of a larger
d. When the problem is not yours or there is nothing you
can do about it
e. When the situation will take care of itself if you wait it

B. Smoothing or suppressing
1. Everything will be OK
2. Have strong need to be liked
3. Sacrifice personal goals and values
4. Use this when
a. The conflict and anger are disrupting the work setting
or interfering with patient care
b. Need another approach to solve conflict at another

C. Accommodating
1. Kill the enemy with kindness
2. Used when
a. The other individual has more power than you
b. You are wrong and the other person is right
c. The issue is not important to you
d. You can gain more later by giving in now

D. Forcing the issue or competing

1. Lets vote on it
2. Emphasize personal goals and desires
3. Sarcasm is often used
4. Use when
a. You have more information or greater expertise than
b. When your values are such that you believe no
compromise is possible

E. Compromising or negotiating
1. Involves give and take
2. Viewed as win-lose for both
3. Helps to identify a common goal
4. Use when
a. The goals of both sides seem incompatible
b. There are time constraints
c. Earlier discussions have stalled

F. Problem solving or collaborating

1. Both work toward common goals
2. A win-win situation
3. More time consuming
4. Listen and try to understand other persons viewpoint
5. Usually considered best approach to conflict

V. Outcomes of Conflict

A. Win-lose
1. Usually power a factor
2. Competing will usually result in this
3. Results when issue put to a vote

B. Lose-lose
1. There are no winners
2. Usually smoothing or avoidance results in this
3. Compromise can also result in this
a. Using a third party to negotiate

C. Win-win
1. This is most desirable
2. Both parties achieve all or most of their goals
3. Problem solving and collaborating results in this

VI. Resolving Conflict With a Group

A. Conduct a thorough self-assessment

1. Do you have a complete understanding of the problem?
2. Is your perception of the problem accurate?

B. Analyze the issues surrounding the conflict

C. Review and adjust attitudes (biases and feelings)

D. Organize a meeting of those involved (give advance notice)

E. Encourage expression of individual viewpoints results in

identifying the problem

F. Develop and outline multiple solutions

1. Obtain feedback from all
2. Not uncommon to use outside resources
G. Narrow the choices for action criteria for evaluating solutions
must be established

H. Plan for implementation understand and communicate who is to

do what in what time frame

VII. General Guidelines

A. Trust, clear communication and willingness of parties to negotiate

are important

B. Communication should always be two-way both parties talking and


C. The use of I statements is important

D. Give positive feedback when good ideas are presented

1. May want to limit speakers time
2. Clarify positions presented by restating them or rephrasing