Conflict Handling Style and Its Importance

Conflicts arise when two or more people or rival groups disagree upon the needs of the challenging person or party (Moreland and Apker 1-9). In such a case, the parties cannot agree on the suggestions and recommendations of either party for the benefit of one of them. Conflict management is the ability to handle and analyze situations between disagreeing parties and provides an amicable solution that is suitable for all of them. Conflicts are experienced across all organizations and places of work. In the health care industry, conflict is extremely observed among health stakeholders (Schlaerth, Ensari, and Christian 126-136). For instance, nurses are the most frustrated stakeholders considering that they work for long hours and take care of many patients with diverse issues.

There are various ways to handle conflicts in every organization, group and between people. In nursing, conflicts are brought about by different factors (Johansen 50-54). One of the factors is change. Change endeavors in the nursing field affect the nurses in a significant way. The change theories relevant in the healthcare environment include the Lewin’s change theory. Nurses widely use this theory in their operations. It incorporates three stages: unfreezing, changing and freezing. The nurse in-charge is depicted to be the driving power while the other nurses are the opposing forces. The driving power has to dominate the opposing forces to implement changes and achieve the required transformations (Mitchell 32-37). Roger’s change theory revised the Lewin’s theory and is employed to lasting schemes of change. It has five stages and achieves success when resistant nurses incorporate the change and join their fellow receptive nurses. Similarly, the Spradley’s theory of planned change is based on Lewin’s theory and consists of eight steps. It underscores regular supervision of change endeavors to ensure their success.

On the other hand, the applicable conflict theories in the nursing field encompass the organizational conflict theory and gender conflict theory. The organizational conflict theory is applicable when two or more departments differ (Elena and Vallejo 73-80). For instance, a patient who does not have medical cover and has been brought in the emergency room will get care from the nurse regardless of the administration’s rule of no service without some form of payment. The administrator and the nurse will disagree because of their different roles. The gender conflict theory is usually observed between a female and a male nurse. Male nurses may feel inferior to their female counterparts as the nursing industry is widely considered a feminine territory.

With nurses resisting change and being overwhelmed with conflicts, the nurse leader could become the change agent in managing the arising conflicts successfully (Kaakinen et al. 30-35). To manage the conflicts, nurse leaders must be conversant with the nursing change theories, which will assist them in the planning and implementation of change. In this regard, the leader may choose to become accommodating; ready to harmonize the situation regardless of who is wrong. In other cases, the leader could become compromising; giving in to something for the other parties to have leverage. Moreover, in other situations, the leader could choose to be collaborative, which is deemed an excellent style of conflict handling where both parties agree on a solution, and a win-win platform is found. Avoidance is a negative approach that the leaders should evade as it would hinder the optimization of the roles of nurses due to constantly avoiding conflicts rather than seeking to resolve them when they arise. Avoidance depicts the nurse leader as a follower and not a manager.


Elena, Marta, and Ricardo Vallejo. “Conflict resolution styles in the nursing profession.” Contemporary Nurse 43.1 (2012): 73-80. Print.

Johansen, Mary. “Keeping the peace: Conflict management strategies for nurse managers.” Nursing Management 43.2 (2012): 50-54. Print.

Kaakinen, Rowe, Deborah Coehlo, Rose Steele, Aaron Tabacco, and Shirley Hanson. Family health care nursing: Theory, practice, and research. Philadelphia, United States: FA Davis, 2014. Print.

Mitchell, Gary. “Selecting the best theory to implement planned change: Improving the workplace requires staff to be involved and innovations to be maintained.” Nursing Management 20.1 (2013): 32-37. Print.

Moreland, Jennifer, and Julie Apker. “Conflict and stress in hospital nursing: Improving communicative responses to enduring professional challenges.” Health Communication 1.1 (2015): 1-9. Print.

Schlaerth, Andrea, Nurcan Ensari, and Julie Christian. “A meta-analytical review of the relationship between emotional intelligence and leaders’ constructive conflict management.” Group Processes & Intergroup Relations 16.1 (2013): 126-136. Print.

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NursingBird. "Conflict Handling Style and Its Importance." May 2, 2022.