Conflict management is a common topic in any profession of our time. Now people are more confident in expressing and defending their points of view. This inevitably leads to various conflicts, which can often have serious consequences. In particular, conflicts can arise in the medical field and involve nurses. These can be conflicts with patients as well as with managers and colleagues (Stanley, 2016). Therefore, nurses need to develop an approach to resolving different types of conflicts and follow it. Sfantou et al. (2017) argue that “management and leadership of healthcare professionals is critical for strengthening quality and integration of care” (p. 73). The purpose of this paper is to discuss different approaches to conflict management in the nursing field.
Each person has his or her style of behavior; in particular, there are different leadership types. In the work of nurses, servant, transformational, and authoritarian leadership can be distinguished (Huber, 2017). In communicating with patients, the most frequently encountered type is the servant one: the nurse’s goal in these situations is to help the patient. This approach includes caring and helping people on any issue. In conflicts, this type manifests itself in a calm and kind attitude towards a person. Typically, nurses using this approach may sacrifice some principles and decide in favor of the patient. This can be useful for customer service, but this approach must be used carefully when it is about human health and life.
The transformational type of leadership is the most productive and creative one. Joseph and Huber (2015) state that it is “important for working with interprofessional teams, managing the coordination of care, and innovating roles and functions as structures are changing” (p. 57). Within its framework, nurses can influence the situation and state of things in medical institutions. This allows them to create a beneficial atmosphere and avoid conflicts even at the stage of origin. In addition, if a dispute does occur, nurses using this type of leadership can come up with an unusual solution that suits everyone. However, this approach is not always possible, since it strongly depends on different characteristics of medical workers. To use it, a nurse must be a creative and charismatic person.
Among nurses, one can often come across an authoritarian type of control. It can be found not only in medical institutions but also in many other organizations. Unfortunately, it cannot be called the most effective, although it can produce results due to its rigidity and strength. However, especially in conflicts with patients, nurses often need to be soft and flexible (Scully, 2015). Forcing people to action and refusing to accept someone else’s point of view can ruin relations with people and aggravate the conflict. This behavior will be perceived as tyranny and cause a high level of resistance (Murray, 2017). Therefore, this management style should be used carefully and infrequently.
Thus, there are different leadership styles, each of which can be useful in resolving conflicts. The choice of style depends on various characteristics: the personality of the nurse, working conditions, as well as the features of the conflicting parties and the conflict itself. A competent nurse should clearly distinguish between different types of leadership and understand in which situations one or the other can be used. Thanks to this, leaders will be able to develop their system of relationships with different people. This will help to solve each conflict individually and get a better resolution of the situation. Therefore, the central leadership quality a nurse needs in conflict resolution is flexibility. These people are attentive and have a strong character, allowing to stand their ground or make concessions depending on the circumstances.
Joseph, M. L., & Huber, D. (2015). Clinical leadership development and education for nurses: Prospects and opportunities. Journal of Healthcare Leadership, 7, 55–64.
Huber, D. (2017). Leadership and nursing care management-e-book. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Murray, E. (2017). Nursing leadership and management: For patient safety and quality care. F. A. Davis.
Scully, N. J. (2015). Leadership in nursing: The importance of recognizing inherent values and attributes to secure a positive future for the profession. Collegian, 22(4), 439-444.
Sfantou, D. F., Laliotis, A., Patelarou, A. E., Sifaki-Pistolla, D., Matalliotakis, M., & Patelarou, E. (2017). Importance of leadership style towards quality of care measures in healthcare settings: A systematic review. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 5(4), 73.
Stanley, D. (2016). Clinical leadership in nursing and healthcare: Values into action. John Wiley & Sons.