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Conflict Identification and Resolution

Conflict Identification and Resolution

Conflict is defined by Baack (2012) as “a situation in which one party negatively affects or seeks to negatively affect another party” (7.3). Conflict can be positive in that it benefits the organization in some way, or it can be negative in that it is detrimental or dysfunctional for the organization. Individuals are constantly exposed to various forms of conflict in their lives and must understand what it is, what caused it, and how to resolve it, not only in their personal lives but also in their professional lives. Throughout this paper, I will reflect on a conflict within an organization or team, identifying and describing the sources of the conflict as well as the level of conflict. Following that, I will discuss conflict resolution and possible outcomes following or as a result of the resolution. By the end of this paper, you should have a better understanding of conflict, what situations or behaviors can lead to conflict, the various levels of conflict, ways to facilitate conflict resolution, and the resulting changes or observations after conflict resolution.

Conflict Is Dysfunctional

While working in the clinic, I witnessed and experienced various types of conflict with coworkers and patients. “Organizational level conflict is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values, and interests between people working together in an organization,” write Bhat, Rangnekar, and Barua (2013, p 16). One point of contention was the attitude and demeanor of one of the doctors (I’ll refer to him as Dr. J) toward not only coworkers but also patients. Dr. J would speak simply to her technicians and workers, repeating information slowly and in a way that made them feel patronized. She would refuse to do many things for her patients, including refusing to speak to them, leaving technicians and nurses to inform them, and being the target of their rage, dissatisfaction, and frustration.

As a result of Dr. J’s treatment or avoidance of addressing the patient’s concerns or problems, patients would frequently verbally attack the technicians, nurses, and, on occasion, administrative staff. Fellow providers would become frustrated with Dr. J because her patients insisted on not being scheduled with her despite the fact that she was listed as their provider and thus found ways to be scheduled with other providers. When this happened, it messed up the other providers’ patient schedules because Dr. J’s patients would arrive with a laundry list of issues that needed to be addressed.

Even though the appointments were only fifteen minutes long, the clinic policy required that all patients’ concerns be addressed during their appointment times. Dr. J would only address one issue for fifteen minutes before leaving the room for the next patient. Patients filed numerous complaints with the patient advocate, and complaints from fellow providers and support staff (technicians and nurses) were filed with the clinic manager.

This behavior and disregard for patients’ concerns and clinic policies irritated and disappointed the clinic’s managers and medical director. Bhat, Rangnekar, and Barua (2013) emphasized an important point: “communication and conflict are inextricably linked; communication can both stimulate and prevent conflict” (p 10). The conflict that arose as a result of Dr. J was of a dysfunctional nature, as it disrupted the clinic’s operations and performance.

Conflict Sources

Task, process, or relationship conflicts can all cause dysfunctional conflict. “Process conflict is concerned with issues of duty and resource delegation, such as who should do what and how much work one should receive” (Alok et al., 2014, p50). Delegating her duties to her technicians and nurses, despite the fact that these duties were her responsibility to perform, led to her patients seeking care from other providers within the clinic, resulting in process conflict.

Her disregard for the duties outlined in her contract in terms of clinic operations and patient care, as well as her treatment and disrespect of coworkers, had a negative impact on everyone’s ability to work together toward the clinic’s objectives and purposes. The resulting resentment, anger, animosity, unhappiness, wounded, offense, and dissatisfaction disrupted clinic operations, was detrimental to employee behavior and attitude and is an example of relationship conflict. “Relationship conflict refers to disagreements, incompatibilities, and frictions among group members over non-task-related personal issues” (Alok et al., 2014, p 51).

Within an organization, there are sources of conflict at both the individual and group levels. Individual sources of conflict included incivility, personality differences, variations in power or perceived differences in power, communication breakdowns, and differences in prestige. The sources of conflict in groups were the same as those in individuals, with the addition of ethical issues and concerns, differences in goals, and disruptions in task assignments (Baack, 2012, p 7.3).

Conflict can be classified into four types: intrapersonal, interpersonal, intragroup, and intergroup. This conflict had both intragroup and interpersonal dimensions. Stress and emotions can have an impact on behavior and attitudes, which in turn can influence conflict. Because of the disruption in operations, the unfair treatment of fellow group (clinic) members, and the inconsistency in providing patient care, it was an intragroup level. Furthermore, this conflict is on an interpersonal level, as there have been disagreements between individual employees and Dr. J.

Dispute Resolution

Conflict resolution is necessary for improving stability, performance, and interpersonal relationships by being aware of and understanding the concerns of all parties involved. The way a person views their own and other people’s concerns influences their conflict style. Based on my interactions and observations, Dr. J did show concern for others, despite her treatment of others, leading me to believe she has a compromising conflict style. According to Baack (2012), the likelihood of compromise increases when both parties are unable to reach an agreement, their goals differ and are weakly connected, and power equality exists (7.4). Managers can better assess information and move forward in the resolution process by identifying the conflict style.

“Studies suggested a tendency for teams to respond to process conflict through integrating style showing personal respect/value or dominating style indicating the existence of unresolved conflict in the form of negative behaviors such as showing up late, unwilling to compromise, taking team-related business outside of the team, backstabbing, and changing a solution without team consensus,” Alok et al. stated (2014, p 51). With the level of conflict caused by Dr. J’s interactions and actions, as well as the continued inability to resolve internally, a moderator would be required to help keep the discussions calm and focused on reaching a resolution.

Baack (2012) outlines the following steps in the conflict resolution process: “identify the parties involved; identify the issues; identify the positions of the parties; find the bargaining zone; make a decision” (7.4). Initially, the clinic manager and a mediator met with each individual privately to hear their concerns, complaints, and recommendations for changes or actions. The manager and mediator then approached Dr. J to discuss how she perceived clinic operations, whether she had any complaints or suggestions about how the clinic operated, and whether she had any concerns or issues with other clinic employees. Following the exchange of information from both parties, the clinic manager and mediator met to determine the best course of action for the individuals involved as well as the clinic’s operation or performance.

Dr. J and a mediator met with the clinic manager and mediator to go over clinic policies, job descriptions, and performance expectations. Employees’ and patients’ concerns and complaints were brought to Dr. J’s attention. When discussing complaints, concerns, and resolution actions, it is critical that Dr. J does not feel verbally or personally attacked and that the complainants understand that Dr. J is not to blame for everything that goes wrong in the clinic.

A compromise was reached after discussions between both parties. Dr. J agreed to refrain from performing unnecessary testing, treat coworkers fairly, and refrain from performing duties outside of their approved scope of practice. It was agreed that Dr. Bauman would inform her patients about which concerns she would address during that visit, instruct them to schedule an appointment to discuss their other concerns, instruct or further educate technicians on new techniques in a positive manner, and not attempt to have the technicians or nurses perform tasks that are outside their approved scope of practice. Furthermore, support staff were instructed that patients were only permitted to schedule appointments with their primary care physician, not other physicians within the clinic and that patients would need to change their physician if they did not wish to see Dr. J. Support staff were also instructed to discuss their concerns with Dr. J in order to address them before they escalated.

These resolutions seemed to work for a short time before performance and behaviors seemed to revert to where they were before the first incident. Unfortunately, the resolutions, changes, and compromises reached by both parties did not last long. Dr. J’s contract was not renewed due to continued patient complaints and inconsistency with the clinic’s mission, and another provider was hired to take over Dr. J’s empanelment.

Conflict Resolution

Organizations benefit from “the conception of new ideas, the effective use of resources, task completion, and the accurate assessment of work requirements” (Bruk-Lee et al., 2013, p 340). Negative consequences of an unresolved conflict include disruptions in duties and performance, dysfunctional and distrustful interpersonal relationships and communications, and decreased job satisfaction.

The original decision, in which Dr. J and the employees agreed to communicate their concerns and ideas with one another in order to reduce conflict, was a reasonable proposal. If it had remained effective, it could have resulted in more and better communication among associates, as well as better communication between Dr. J and her patients. This would have been a good outcome for the clinic and its employees.

The resolution of the conflict resulted in “noncompliance with orders and decisions” (Baack, 2012, 7.4), as well as increased resentment and anger, and “may cause reduced effort or passive resistance from one or more parties” (7.4). Employees may feel as if their feelings and thoughts have no importance because Dr. J’s actions have returned to what they were before the resolution and decision as agreed upon by all parties, resulting in them remaining passive to the negative treatment they receive from Dr. J. Additionally, the continued negative treatment increases the previous negative feelings of resentment and anger, which can present a bigger problem if those feelings progress to a manifestation.

Conflict resolution is “critical to the success of individuals, groups, and organizations” (Bhat et al., 2013, p 9). Individuals are constantly exposed to various forms of conflict in their lives and must understand what it is, what caused it, and how to resolve it, not only in their personal lives but also in their professional lives. Conflict can be positive in that it benefits the organization in some way, or it can be negative in that it is detrimental or dysfunctional for the organization.

The purpose of this paper was to give the reader a better understanding of conflict, what situations or behaviors can lead to conflict, the different levels of conflict, ways to facilitate conflict resolution, and the resulting changes or observations after conflict resolution. Throughout this paper, I have considered the conflict between Dr. J, employees, and clinic leadership. Furthermore, I have identified the various sources of conflict, with special emphasis on individual and group sources. I’ve gone over the various levels of conflict, focusing on intrapersonal group and interpersonal conflict. Finally, I discussed conflict resolution and the outcomes that result as a result of the circumstance of the resolution.


Alok, S., Raveendran, J. & Shaheen, M. (2014). Conflict management strategies used by Indian software companies: A summative content analysis. IUP Journal Of Soft Skills, 8(4), 47- 61 Retrieved from Business Source Elite Database

Baack, D. (2012). Organizational behavior. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Bhat, A.B., Rangnekar, S., & Barua, M.K. (2013). Organizational conflict scale: Reexamining the instrument. IUP Journal of Organizational Behavior, 12(1), 7-23

Burk-Lee, V., Nixon, A. E., & Spector, P. E. (2013). An expanded topology of conflict at work: Task, relationship and non-task organizational conflict as social stressors. Work & Stress, 27(4), 339=350. doi:10.1080/02678373.2013.841303


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Was the outcome positive or negative?

How did the involved parties feel about the resolution, did they feel that they were heard and that their issues were resolved in an appropriate manner?

Conflict Identification and Resolution

Conflict Identification and Resolution

Based on what you have read in this unit, what could have been done to improve both the situation and the outcome?

Describe professional civility/incivility.

Analyze the impact of professional relationships and patient care outcomes.

Synthesize and discuss the incivility literature evidence is available that supports that conflict resolution impacts work environments and patient care.

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