Conflict Resolution: The Nursing Context

In the healthcare setting, conflict resolution is necessary to consider as confrontational situations occur on a regular basis. Strategies necessary for addressing conflicts between nursing practitioners or professionals of any other specialization imply the application of different approaches to communication management. In this paper, the Twelve-Skill Summary will be applied to the specific conflict situation that could have occurred with a nurse or and a nurse manager. Conflicts between nurses and nurse managers are important to assess because of the lack of power equality and the need for nurses to follow what their managers ask them to do (Kantek & Kavla, 2007).

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A specific conflict that occurred between a nurse and a nurse manager was associated with the unfair distribution of the workload, with one nurse assigned more shifts than others. The nurse came to her manager’s office to ask why the shifts were assigned unfairly, and she has not been asked prior to the assignment whether she could fulfill such a workload. However, the manager was very defensive in his explanations.

He said that the nurse must be present at every shift because she did not have any children for which to care, was not married and therefore had fewer responsibilities to address outside of her nursing practice. In addition, the manager made a hint that the nurse could be fired if she fails to complete her shifts.

The nurse tried to resolve the situation by explaining that she has some important responsibilities at home. She also said that such a distribution of shifts was unfair because there were other nurses who did not have children or spouses and still did not have to work as much as her. The two opponents could not resolve the problem at the end of their conversation. While the nurse said that she would go to the union and file a complaint against the manager for unfair treatment, the latter said that he was “the boss” and “should not be messed with.” Such situations are very common in the practice setting and should be addressed in terms of applying the twelve conflict resolution skills.

The first skill, the win-win approach, implies the resolution of a dispute between people as partners rather than opponents. In the discussed situation, the nurse and manager should look at the situation and discuss which resolution can be beneficial for both of them (Hamric, Hanson, Tracy, & O’Grady, 2019). This resolution can be transformed into a creative opportunity (second skill), such as evaluating the role of communication between nurses and their managers with the help of a short survey.

The third skill, empathy, may imply both the manager and the nurse to explain their positions and ask each other to reflect upon opposing opinions. Appropriate assertiveness, which is a strategy for attacking the problem and not the person, should be applied through asking an independent person to formulate the core of the issue for the opponents to view the conflict from an outside perspective. The fifth skill, cooperative power, will imply the manager reducing his power over the nurse and build power with the subordinate as an equal contributor to practice. The management of emotions is a crucial conflict resolution skill in the given situation because it will require the manager and the nurse to express their emotions without any anger, fear, frustration, fear, and any other negative manifestations.

The willingness to resolve the conflict is essential in the described conflict because without the nurse and her manager agreeing to contribute to the elimination of the problem, the success is unlikely. In terms of conflict mapping, which is the eighth conflict resolution skill, it is recommended to develop a simple chart in which the opponents will include their main needs and concerns. Such a strategy is effective due to the possibility to visualize the problem and learn about it from another perspective.

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After the development of the chart, the parties of the conflict should develop several options that can contribute to the resolution of the situation. For example, the manager should ask the nurse which shifts are the most inappropriate for her and eliminate them from the schedule. Another option is the nurse negotiating with her colleagues to determine whether any of them will be willing to take up extra shifts.

The tenth conflict resolution skill, introduction to negotiation, is associated with planning and applying effective solutions for the opponents to reach an agreement at the end (Wong, 2015). These strategies should be based on the previous steps and contribute to the next step, introduction to mediation. After discussing how the conflict should be resolved, the parties should proceed with mediation and implement the strategies. Lastly, the twelfth conflict resolutions skill, broadening perspectives, will imply the education of the nurse and the manager on effective methods of eliminating arguments in the nursing context and applying the knowledge to practice.

Overall, the application of the twelve conflict resolution skills allowed to view the described situation from different angles. In order for nurses and their managers to eliminate conflicts, it is recommended to account for both perspectives and find ways in which their needs can be addressed. In everyday practice, the twelve skills can be applied in regards to various arguments of any scale.


Hamric, A., Hanson, C., Tracy, M., & O’Grady, E. (2019). Advanced practice nursing: An integrative approach (6th ed.). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.

Kantek, F., & Kavla, I. (2007). Nurse-nurse manager conflict. How do nurse managers manage it? The Health Care Manager, 26(2), 147-151.

Wong, R. (2015). Knowledge of opponents’ power in power-asymmetric negotiations: Whose knowledge shapes the structure of outcomes? Contemporary Management Research, 11(2), 117-142.

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