Workplace Conflict Management Strategies and Examples

Introduction

The work in any organization that concerns interpersonal relationships and communication is likely to impose conflicts. The difficulties in mutual understanding have their causes and outcomes, which deter the performance quality and imped the comfortable environment for the employees. It has even more adverse effects in the field of healthcare because not only employees but also patients might suffer from an argument. Since interpersonal conflicts are emotionally colored encounters between people that might be harmful to either of them, it is essential to apply the concepts of emotional intelligence to manage the argument and exit it most favorably. Therefore, in this paper, three useful strategies aimed at coping with and managing conflict in the workplace will be presented with the examples of their application and explanations of their effectiveness.

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Conflict Management Strategy #1

It is evident that when people with different attitudes and views are engaged in the same processes sharing a common environment, conflicts might occur. Professionals working in an organization must be aware of the origins and manifestations of conflict, so that “they can make it acceptable, predictable, and therefore manageable” (Liebler, J. G., & McConnell, 2016, p. 323). Following such an approach, a manager resolving staff-related issues should use the first tip that is the discussion of conflict instead of ignoring it. Communication of the difficult issues might be fruitful in terms of providing stronger work relationships between the staff members and contributing to the elimination of similar problems in the future. The example of an application of this tip might be a situation when a healthcare professional is reported to be biased in his or her work with a patient. It is important for a manager to initiate a conversation with this staff member and address the very essence of the conflict.

Such a strategy in managing conflict is essential because avoiding an argument in such a highly demanding professional environment as healthcare might lead to the accumulative destructing effect. The identification of a problem and its core reasons contribute to the improvement opportunities for the organization and better performance in the workplace (Liebler, J. G., & McConnell, 2016). Thus, it is critical to address conflicts with an application of appropriate techniques, one of which is presented in the next section.

Conflict Management Strategy #2

When one acknowledges a problem, it is necessary to discuss it in a way that does not lead to more tension and facilitates the ways for effective resolution. Therefore, the second tip is checking the reality of another person (Mackler, 2010). This means that the addressing of the conflict should start by listening to the point of view of the counterpart. For example, if a nurse systematically fails to provide necessary reports, it is vital to inquire his or her explanation of how he or she sees the problem. By patient listening to the nurse’s interpretation of the issue, a manager should then deliver his or her point of view, the discussion of which will help find the solution.

In such a manner, a manager obtains an opportunity to receive the employee’s perspective on the problem and clarify the hidden agenda that leads to the detection of the source of conflict (Liebler, J. G., & McConnell, 2016). As a result, the employees participating in the conflict feel that they are respected for their professional contribution and will be willing to share their problems in the future so that fewer conflicts occur.

Conflict Management Strategy #3

As mentioned earlier, the delivery of a manager’s perspective is also a decisive element in conflict resolution. Thus, the final tip concerns the form of the discussion and incorporates using appropriate emotionally-balanced language and tone to defuse conflict instead of escalating it (Mackler, 2010). For example, if a nurse is systematically late for his or her shift regardless of repeated warnings, a manager addressing this rule violation should deliver his or her message without shouting or using accusing vocabulary. On the contrary, one should contain emotions to engage in a reasonable discussion that is comfortable for both counterparts (Mackler, 2010). A manager might demonstrate the acceptance of the employee’s perspective and provide an emotionally neutral explanation of what the expectations are. This tip is useful due to the extensive utilization of emotional intelligence which contributes to the healthy professional environment and provides an opportunity to clarify conflict-related issues in an understandable manner (Liebler, J. G., & McConnell, 2016). By using these tips, one would succeed in conflict management and develop trusting relationships within the workplace.

Conclusion

Summarizing the discussion, any entity might encounter minor or severe conflicts in the workplace that might impose adverse outcomes for the staff members and for an organization as a whole. Apart from generally acknowledged disciplinary measures concerning workplace conflicts, a manager should address the identified problem, get a full picture of another person’s reality, and provide a neutral explanation of how the conflict might be resolved. The application of the discussed tips will contribute to the comfort within the working environment, enhance trusting relationships between the co-workers, and ultimately benefit the organizational performance.

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References

Liebler, J. G., & McConnell, C. R. (2016). Management principles for health professionals (7th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Mackler, L. (2010). Lauren Mackler at Harvard Business School – Managing conflict [Video file]. Web.

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