This article looks at what we could do differently when faced with workplace and team conflicts. Two models will be discussed: one that aims to help prevent the development of conflicts and the other that uses a partnership approach to resolving them.1,2
In both models, the aim is to strengthen the relationship between the parties involved so that they can work together to provide better care. This is in contrast to a common perception that conflict resolution is about negotiating hard to get the most we can.
The latter approach is based on a power/coercion model, which results in either a winner and a loser or both parties feeling that they have lost. By aiming instead to build the relationship between interdependent colleagues, we can promote more harmonious working.
Part of this process involves examining our own motivations and fears. It should lead us to understand the needs and values of the people concerned and try to find shared goals.
Eight steps of conflict resolution
The conflict partnership described by Dudley Weeks involves eight steps, of which three will be discussed further and related to common scenarios in primary and community healthcare.2 The steps may be part of a process involving an external mediator but can equally be applied in our daily experiences or used by managers and leaders in addressing team problems.
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