Recurring Conflict: Description
Arguments often occur in the workplace due to the pressure of deadlines and the presence of factors contributing to misunderstandings, diversity levels being the key one. With several cultures being represented in the environment of an organization, misconceptions will occur due to incongruences between the viewpoints of participants (Attri et al., 2015). However, it is not the cause of a conflict but the nature thereof and the ability of participants to learn valuable lessons from it that defines the possibility of its successful management.
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A recent example from the setting in which I work shows that all members of an organization need to view a conflict as a source of important information about cross-cultural communication as opposed to a personal issue. Furthermore, the search for the solution must be the focus. The conflict under analysis is rather simple yet long-lasting; particularly, team members often lost their temper when cooperating with each other. Occurring in the ICU setting of a Miami hospital, the confrontation did not occur during the delegation of responsibilities, yet in the process of transferring patient data from one nurse to another. Because of the emotional strain caused by the problem, the quality of care provided by the participants of the conflict started declining fast, thus, requiring the manager to take immediate actions.
The conflict can be classified as an intragroup one since the participants failed to develop a viable communication strategy when working together. The problem under analysis seems to be caused by the lack of conflict management skills, particularly the ability to negotiate and use emotional intelligence skills to prevent a confrontation. While the participants of the conflict had the best interests of their patients in mind, they chose an unproductive way of handling workplace issues. Because of misplaced priorities in addressing conflicts, the staff used it as the means of giving vent to their emotions, which created a negative setting.
Conflict Details: Causes and Participants
The situation mentioned above occurred on a regular basis in the hospital setting where I used to work due to the pressure of responsibility and the lack of conflict management skills among the participants. It is quite remarkable that, in each instance, the confrontation occurred under a different pretext and was started by different people than in previous cases, yet it always repeated the same pattern. Particularly, one of the nurses would ask another one for certain patient-related information, such as when a certain medication was administered to them. The other nurse would provide the answer in a slightly annoyed manner, indicating that they are being distracted from an important task. Their opponent would say something about the other nurse always being difficult and failing to deliver proper care in the ICU setting, and the confrontation would start.
The problem typically occurred during medical processes, although confrontations in the surgical environment were also rather frequent. In the latter case, arguments started with the anesthesiology process. Often provided with incomplete or even incorrect data about patients, anesthesiologists faced difficulties determining the amount of medication that had to be administered to patients. Similar issues occurred at other stages of managing patients’ needs, yet the entire team was immediately involved, accusing each other of incompetence. At the point when any further disagreement would jeopardize the safety of a patient, someone would always suggest focusing on the task and addressing the issue later, yet the problem would then be forgotten and then resurge the next day. Thus, the confrontation remained unresolved each day, with personal issues mounting until they reached the critical mass.
Four Stages of Conflict: Analysis
When deconstructing the confrontation under analysis, one would have to admit that it was between the third and the fourth stages of a conflict. The problem was clearly beyond only being felt by the participants since their discontent was voiced explicitly, and they targeted each other during work. At the same time, it did not reach the overt stage when it would have gotten out of hand since patients’ well-being remained a long-term priority. The identified characteristic of the situation indicated that the problem was far from being resolved. With the conflict becoming explicit, it would have been easy to address since its causes and effects would have been obvious. However, with some of the participants withholding from analyzing it, the conflict lingered between the stages of the conflict being felt and manifested, which prevented the participants from handling it.
In retrospect, collaboration with a nurse leader (NL) would have helped to manage the issue. Specifically, an NL would have provided a setting in which openness would have been a priority, thus giving the team members a chance to explain why they resorted to the specified communication strategies (Adriaenssens, Hamelink, & Van Bogaert, 2017). An NL would have determined internal problems within the team, which might have contributed to the development of the confrontation (Erkutlu & Chafra, 2017). In addition, an NL would have used a conflict management strategy based on collaboration to reinforce cooperation between team members (Gómez-Torres, Martinez, Alves, & Ferreira, 2015). The identified approach would have prevented the drop in service quality, which could be observed at the time in the ICU setting.
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Summary and Lessons Learned
Despite being the prime example of how a conflict should not be handled, the situation described above can be used to derive important lessons about addressing workplace confrontations. For instance, it points to the necessity of setting workplace priorities in order. Without a strong sense of what their duties and responsibilities were, the nurses were distracted by petty arguments, used personal attacks, and responded emotionally to them. Consequently, a deterioration in service quality ensued.
In addition, the case described above points to the need to analyze conflicts as opposed to neglecting them. Confrontations are often viewed solely as a hindrance, yet the subject matter can also be utilized to derive important lessons about communication in a multicultural environment and under strain. Using an avoidance strategy to handle confrontations in a nursing setting is unlikely to be productive due to the specifics of the workplace context. Because of the stress factors to which nurses are exposed in the setting of an ICU, misunderstandings and intense arguments are inevitable. However, it is also necessary to address their presence afterward and cooperate to locate solutions to the problem.
Therefore, while being a rather unfortunate example of how workplace conflicts occur, the scenario described above also allows for an assumption that confrontations between nurses are manageable once approached right. With an appropriate leadership strategy and the staff’s priorities aligned, similar issues can be handled fast and efficiently, at the same time providing nurses with additional information about managing emotionally challenging situations. As long as team members recognize the importance of collaboration and are willing to resolve a problem and focus on delivering high-quality services, conflicts will be managed adequately.
Adriaenssens, J., Hamelink, A., & Van Bogaert, P. (2017). Predictors of occupational stress and well-being in first-line nurse managers: A cross-sectional survey study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 73, 85-92. Web.
Attri, J. P., Sandhu, G. K., Mohan, B., Bala, N., Sandhu, K. S., & Bansal, L. (2015). Conflicts in the operating room: Focus on causes and resolution. Saudi Journal of Anaesthesia, 9(4), 457- 463. Web.
Erkutlu, H., & Chafra, J. (2017). Leaders’ narcissism and organizational cynicism in healthcare organizations. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 10(5), 346-363. Web.
Gómez-Torres, D., Martinez, M. D., Alves, F. J. M., & Frederico Ferreira, M. M. (2015). Authority of nurse managers to resolve conflicts: A humanist perspective. Revista de Enfermagem Referência, 4(7), 41-48. Web.