10 May 2022


Conflict Handling Styles in Healthcare and Nursing

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Academic level: College

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Conflicts can occur in any setting implying they are global and inevitable characteristically. Additionally, they have a cognitive component called disagreement, yet disagreement is not, in its single setting, a conflict (Chan, Sit & Lau, 2014). Branding conflicts as inherently harmful is a severe fallacy because the occurrence of a conflict has growth, change, and learning opportunities. Nevertheless, handling conflicts are situationally bound because every conflict scenario is dynamically unique. Resolving a conflict resulting from intragroup disagreements takes a different dimension from, as an example, individuals. Consequently, a profession like healthcare and nursing is not immune to conflicts yet each arising case follows a unique resolution path. Despite variations in conflict scenarios, five appropriate conflict handling styles can be used everywhere, but creativity is an invaluable tool too. They include accommodation, competition, compromise, collaboration, and avoiding. Each style is discussed in this paper vis-à-vis the five scenarios in the nursing environment. 

Scenario One: Radiologist and Internist

The scenario represents an interpersonal conflict involving a disagreement defined by a breakdown in communication leading to delayed radiology results. The situation has two conflict platforms: the internist feels wrong in the light of delayed radiology results, and the radiologist demands justice because of the raised non-abusive voice from the internist. Apparently, the radiology report had significance to the internist to design a quick treatment scheme for the patient, wisely, the radiologist should employ the accommodating style of conflict handling to restore harmony with the internist through yielding because they will not avoid meeting again as their roles are interdependent. However, the accommodation has a downside: the yielding party may be seen as ineffective, fearful of imminent change, and weak. Furthermore, the radiologist should nurture cooperation with the internist (Pines et al., 2014).

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Scenario Two: The Family Physician and the Division Director

The conflict in this scenario spans across three parties because the ethnical diversity of the population is affected by the management deficiencies of the division chief. However, the physician and the division chief are the principal characters in the conflict. Evidently, the division chief employs the competing style of conflict resolution. The style has a downside of negatively achieving conflict resolution because of one’s rank (Erdenk, & Altuntaş, 2017). Consequently, the physician should use the avoidance system to solve the conflict because she cannot prevail over her more powerful division chief. Confrontation is detrimental to her but avoiding and taking the complaint to the management team would lead to a long-term solution. 

Scenario Three: The VPCA and the Manager

The conflict in this scenario is not only internal to the project but also external because of the coordinator’s unrelenting urge to change bad behavior. Her unwillingness to change is attributed to the inactivity of her manager. Therefore, the community is also drawn into the conflict because of her bad behavior. The VPCA is caught in the middle of the conflict, but his manager is central to the solution. Consequently, he should assert authority and resolve the dispute by competing as a conflict management style to handle the situation. Notably, negative competing is ineffective where decisive and emergent actions are inevitable. Despite the effectiveness of this style in making crucial steps, it leads to redundant teams (Chan, Sit & Lau, 2014). The sluggishness of the manager to return feedback to the VPCA might be the result of the VPCA’s overuse of competing as a conflict resolution style. Hence, the effective change should start with the VPCA too. 

Scenario Four: The Dean and the Two Departmental Chairs

The dean’s conflict with the two departmental chairs results from the lack of cooperation in the faculty. The faculty implemented the new curriculum without consulting the two chairs from the departments of Cell Biology and Anatomy. The conflict arose because the changes adversely affected the lecture times for the medical and dental curriculums. Firstly, the dean should collaborate with the two departmental chairs because redirecting education revenues to the dental school would not solve the lecture schedule conflict permanently (Johansen & Codmus, 2016). Secondly, the dean, in his scholarly capacity as a leader, should yield through accommodating the concerns of the Departmental Chairs for the benefit of the students. The cost-benefit analysis of the situation favors cooperation and accommodation over the current competing style portrayed by the dean. However, the two conflict handling styles have downsides in the light of the dean’s decisions, but they are very resolute about the current scenario. 

Scenario Five: The Physician and the Upcodes

Treating the physician’s behavior as “fraudulent” is relative because the Medicare guidelines do give designated directions. However, the point of interest is the physician’s vulnerability to upcode repetitions. The conflicting level in the scenario is small but significantly affects the partners’ interests, negatively. The recurrence of the situation six months later is frightening, and it implies that the physician is averse to collaboration and accommodation. Consequently, the partners must subject the physician to a competition style of conflict management to instill the desired change and eventual results from the physician (Johansen & Codmus, 2016). They can employ the compromising method to handle the conflict, but the physician is unlikely to change if subjected to its full force. 


Conclusively, conflict management styles are not sufficient in their single applications but may collaborate for useful results. However, analysis of the situation through thorough assessments is imperative to a lasting solution to a conflict. Additionally, treating disagreements as the central cognitive portion of disputes is the basis of conflict resolution. 


Chan, J. C., Sit, E. N., & Lau, W. M. (2014). Conflict management styles, emotional intelligence and implicit theories of personality of nursing students: A cross-sectional study.  Nurse education today 34 (6), 934-939.

Erdenk, N., & Altuntaş, S. (2017). Do personality traits of nurses have an effect on conflict management strategies?  Journal of nursing management 25 (5), 366-374.

Johansen, M. L., & Cadmus, E. (2016). Conflict management style, supportive work environments and the experience of work stress in emergency nurses.  Journal of nursing management 24 (2), 211-218.

Pines, E. W., Rauschhuber, M. L., Cook, J. D., Norgan, G. H., Canchola, L., Richardson, C., & Jones, M. E. (2014). Enhancing resilience, empowerment, and conflict management among baccalaureate students: outcomes of a pilot study.  Nurse Educator 39 (2), 85-90.

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Conflict Handling Styles in Healthcare and Nursing.


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