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Positive Results Of Conflict

From the Disputing Blog of Karl Bayer, Victoria VanBuren, and Holly Hayes.

In May, we wrote about Dr. Donde Plowman’s presentation in Austin where she spoke about the opportunity leaders have to create organizations where innovation can occur. One aspect of innovation in organizations, she believes, is the presence of conflict. So often, leaders are responsible for reducing conflict, but Dr. Plowman argues, conflict often results in innovation. She states, perhaps conflict in the organization means there is life in the organization. For more on Dr. Plowman’s research on how organizations change, read here. Dr. Plowman is Professor in Business and Department Head at the University of Tennessee.

On this same topic, mediate.com posted a video of David A. Hoffman talking about “conflict being good in that it brings about change. While conflict can be scary, it can also have positive outcomes.” See his video here. David is a mediator, arbitrator, and Collaborative Law attorney at Boston Law Collaborative, LLC.

A Nurses First article titled The Cost of Avoiding Conflict by Diane E. Scott, RN, MSN gives an example of how one nurse avoided conflict in the workplace:

As a night shift charge nurse, I would dread working with a particular co-worker because of her negative attitude. She frequently complained about her patient assignment and rarely offered to help other nurses. I finally got to my breaking point and requested a transfer to another shift rather than work with her again.

Rachel, RN.

The article reviews a study called Silence Kills that demonstrates how avoiding conflict can have negative results. The study was conducted by Vital-Smarts and The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (Maxfield, Grenny, McMillan, Patterson, & Switzler, 2005). Ten percent of the healthcare professionals who took the survey stated that when they do address their concerns, they feel the outcome is improved performance and improved teamwork with their coworkers. When healthcare staff can learn to manage conflict well, they can become more effective in creating healthy environments for themselves and for their patients. While learning conflict resolution skills can require unlearning some practices and reaching outside a staff member’s comfort zones, the result can be greater personal and professional growth.

Ten percent of the healthcare professionals who took the survey stated that when they do address their concerns, they feel the outcome is improved performance and improved teamwork with their coworkers. When healthcare staff can learn to manage conflict well, they can become more effective in creating healthy environments for themselves and for their patients. While learning conflict resolution skills can require unlearning some practices and reaching outside a staff member’s comfort zones, the result can be greater personal and professional growth.

We welcome your comments on the positive results of conflict.

                        author

Holly Hayes

Holly Hayes Bovio received a Masters in Health Administration (MHA) from Duke University and her undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University. She holds a certificate in mediation from Texas State.  Holly brings a strong hospital operations background to healthcare mediations including a focus on clinical quality.  Holly managed her own consulting… MORE >

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