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Nurse First News Blog

Handling Conflict in the Workplace, the Right Way

Posted August 19, 2019

Nurses are trained to handle a multitude of complex health-related issues on a daily basis. However, something you can’t learn in nursing school is how to deal with other types of conflict in the workplace. Problems can arise between yourself and another nurse, your manager, or even with patients and family members (Ramsay, 2001). Maybe you’ve been working too much overtime, or perhaps a co-worker is making your job difficult. Whatever the situation is, there is definitely a right and wrong way of handling things. As the old adage goes, don’t ever “burn your bridges.” You never know when you may cross paths with someone again later in life. Here are some tips to help you arrive at a solution to your problem in a professional manner:

Keep your Composure

While you might want to get everything off your chest right away, it’s not always best to react immediately. Especially when you’re already stressed or frustrated, you might say something you’ll regret later. Think about the situation when you have a cool head and are ready to figure out how best to deal with it. If the issue is particularly complex, writing things down can help you make more sense of it. It’s also wise to find a friend, family member or colleague you can trust to talk it over with you (, 2018). They may be able to point out different sides of the issue that you have not considered.

Talk it Out

If you tend to avoid conflict, it will be tempting to express your concerns indirectly. However, having a face-to-face discussion is the best way to make sure that both sides have an equal voice. The overall effectiveness of communication can get lost in email, text, or even phone conversations. Additionally, meeting in person allows you to pick up on nonverbal cues from the other party, and vice versa. These can help determine how each person is truly feeling (, 2018). If you’re not feeling confident about your ability to control the discussion, invite another person to help moderate the conversation (, 2018).

Aim to Understand

When dealing with conflict in the workplace, simply blaming the other person of being at fault can be unprofessional (Ramsay, 2001). This will only escalate the tension between you and the other party. For example, telling another nurse “You don’t know how to chart correctly” sounds accusatory. Instead, you can rephrase this to say, “I’m concerned we aren’t communicating effectively when we work together. What can I do to better understand your charting process?” This opens the door for your opportunity to explain how you do things differently. When it comes time to give your side of the story, make sure you are telling the truth at all times. Exaggerating details of your story will only detract from your credibility. Throughout the entire process, always offer an apology when warranted (, 2018).

Especially in a healthcare setting, it’s important to have honest lines of communication among your team. You’re a great nurse, but it can be difficult to focus your attention on your patients if a workplace conflict is bothering you. At Nurses PRN, we want you to have the best experience possible while on your assignment. You have an entire team here to support you in your nursing career, and if you ever need guidance, know that we are with you every step of the way.

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Blog Sources

7 strategies to manage conflict in nursing. (2018, September 28). Retrieved April 22, 2019, from

Ramsay, M. (2001, April). Conflict in the health care workplace. Retrieved April 22, 2019, from

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