The creation of a productive work environment is vital to an organization's long-term success. Management is tasked with designing an environment that fosters positive relationships, which can support collaboration, teamwork, and communication. On a regular basis, they are expected to resolve conflicts that result from employee to employee or employee to client engagements.
The term conflict refers to any form of antagonistic engagements between or among people. The term is also used to describe any state of opposition, disagreement or incompatibility between or among parties. Conflicts are inherent in any organizational setting. Differences in ideas, perceptions, needs, desires, cultural values and practices set a precedent for workplace conflict.
Healthcare organizations appear more susceptible to conflicts due to various reasons. First, the stressful environment under which clinicians operate presupposes the possibility of conflicts. Second, the inevitability of constant changes in operational organization triggers disorganization that often degenerates into conflicts. Thirdly, challenging and difficult tasks triggers frustrations that may be expressed in the form of conflict. Lastly, the diverse and large number of staff members presupposes a realistic possibility of difference in ideas and opinions that would worsen into conflict.
Previous studies have poorly defined conflict in nursing practice. They provide a range of experiences ranging from physical violence to gossiping. However, conflicts in nursing practices should encompass all experiences that constrain the ability of a group of clinicians to function efficiently in the delivery of healthcare services. Even the emotional strain that nurses or other clinicians endure are as a result of prolonged working hours or engaging in psychologically intense activities such as tending to patients suffering terminal illnesses fall under the category of organizational conflict in nursing.
Previous studies have identified intrapersonal conflict as a very contentious concern in nursing practices. Evidently, the delivery of healthcare services entails collaborative engagements between numerous clinicians. The doctors, nurses, and pharmacists all have a distinctive role to play in the realization of positive outcomes from treatment undertakings. In the process, there is a possibility of conflicts that can arise from differences in ideas, perceptions, thoughts, and desires. Such conflicts are defined as intrapersonal conflicts. Nurses may differ with doctors in the course of treatment or a dosage pattern. Such instances are common in healthcare settings.
In recent years, attempts to expand the concept of conflict in nursing practices beyond physical violence has given rise to a wide range of negative acts that are now considered as illustrations of conflict. Overarching negative expressions such as aggression, psychological torture, emotional abuse, abusive supervision, harassment, and professional incivility are now considered as conflicting constructs in nursing practice. Roberts, Demarco, and Griffin (2009) wrote that all the above mentioned conducts share a common fact that they are expressed as a result of antagonizing interests, values, or beliefs that are aimed at achieving outcomes that negate professionalism in nursing practice. Hendel, Fish, and Berger (2007) note that personal disagreements are the most common form of conflicts in nursing practice.
While conflicts are inherent in any organizational setting, constant intrapersonal conflicts among clinicians are detrimental to the quality of healthcare services that a health institution delivers (Northam, 2009). The management should be keen to identify factors within their institutions that precipitate conflict. In addition, they should have necessary conflict resolution skills to manage experiences that would result in the creation of unpleasant and stressful work environment, which on numerous occasions precipitate conflicts.
Attributes of Intrapersonal Conflict Among Nurses
Defining the attributes or features of intrapersonal conflict in nursing practice is essential to foster its identification by managers of the healthcare organization. According to Leiter and Price (2010), disagreements, interferences, and negative emotions between nurses or with other clinicians are the three distinctive properties of intrapersonal conflict in practice. Pavlakis, Kaitelidou, Theodorou, Galanis, Sourtzi, and Siskou (2011) noted that disagreements are the stand out cognitive components of intrapersonal conflict in nursing practice. The divergence of points of view, interests, desires, needs, and values are the most common manifestations of disagreements that constitute an intrapersonal conflict. It should be noted that the differences do not necessarily have to pertain to a professional element, out of work elements such as religion, politics and cultural beliefs can degenerate into a nasty engagement that constitutes an intrapersonal conflict. In this respect, the divergence of opinions may make nurses uncomfortable with professional collaboration with other nurses or clinicians.
Pearson, Porritt, Doran, Vincent, Craig, Tucker, and Henstridge (2006) wrote that behaviors like debates, hostility, aggression, undermining, backstabbing, or isolation is associated with intrapersonal conflict in nursing practice. Debates that are centered on sensitive matters such as patient safety, dosage, or professional collaboration may degenerate into intrapersonal conflict. Similarly, disagreements that border on cultural, religious, or political debates may invoke the feelings of disrespect or hostility that may eventually lead to intrapersonal conflicts in the line of duty. Zakari, Al Khamis, and Hamadi (2010) believe that the process of intrapersonal conflict is accelerated by engagements that result in antagonistic interests of goals in practice. Further, they note that negative emotions such as fear, jealousy, frustration, or anger may result in intrapersonal conflicts.
Types of Interpersonal Conflict Among Nurses
In respect to conflict management in nursing practice, most researchers have focused on documenting the types. Almost, Doran and McGillis Hall (2010) explained that there are three prominent types of intrapersonal conflict in practice: task, process, and relationship conflicts. They also noted that there is a considerable conceptual overlap between the types as mentioned above of intrapersonal conflicts.
Intrapersonal task conflicts among nurses and with other clinicians arise in the form of disagreements over professional duties, distribution of resources among departments, procedures, or interpretation of facts that are related to the duties. According to Almost, Doran, and McGillis Hall (2010), they occur in the form of differences in viewpoints, ideas, or opinions in discussions that are in the line of their professional responsibilities. Task conflicts often result in beneficial outcomes. Considering nursing as a life-long learning engagement, nurses with the latest information about procedures or resource management may face opposition when they attempt to enforce changes that would facilitate the improvement of treatment outcomes. However, other studies have revealed that task conflicts in nursing practice could lead to detrimental results. For instance, when senior nurses collide with their juniors over professional responsibilities, the latter may lose the morale to deliver to acceptable standards. Alternately, it may result in negative employee turnovers that can affect an organization's productivity.
Process conflicts among nurses and with other clinicians pertain to how professional procedures are carried out. They zero down to individual responsibilities and delegation. In this respect, process conflicts arise from disagreements over who should perform certain duties and who makes delegation decisions. Process conflicts result in frustrations and job dissatisfaction. Further, they are linked to low work morale and reduce the productivity of certain departments in a clinical setup.
Relationship conflicts arise when there are intrapersonal incompatibilities among nurses and with other clinicians. Leiter and Price (2010) note that cultural, religious, and political diversity are the major factors for relationship conflict. It should be noted that this specific kind of intrapersonal conflict may not directly affect productivity. However, if they remain unsolved, relationship conflict can have detrimental long-term impacts on the productivity of a healthcare organization. They result in personality clashes, animosity, tension, mistrust, resentment, and anxiety. These emotions negate the principles of professional collaboration. In this regard, consultation, feedback giving and other essential ingredients of teamwork are eroded gradually resulting in lack of organizational commitment and increased stress levels. Effects of intrapersonal Conflicts in Nursing practice.
Poor quality of Health Care Services
As noted earlier, the quality of health services delivered by an institution is reliant on the management's ability to create a corporate environment that encourages the creation of good work relationship. Further, professional collaboration is imperative to realizing the standard quality of healthcare services. However, in health institutions where the management does not have an effective policy for managing intrapersonal and interpersonal conflicts among employees and with clients, the quality of health services deteriorates. In this regard, conflicts compromise the need for teamwork, communication, and cooperation. As a result, employees do not consult or provide feedback as anticipated by other stakeholders.
Elements of professional collaboration such as consultation and teamwork allow employees to improve in areas of practice where they have underperformed on previous occasions. In this respect, they can either consult their colleagues or learn from observation. As a result, they can improve perpetually. However, when there are constrained relationships among employees as a result of intrapersonal conflicts, the environment is not conducive to staff development because the junior staff cannot learn from their seniors through consultation. Alternately, they cannot improve their skills through observation because the spirit of teamwork is eroded. Consequently, the quality of delivery of healthcare services keeps deteriorating gradually.
Wilson (2005) explained that one of the key indicators of intrapersonal conflict in nursing practice is work satisfaction. Nurses who are exposed to disagreements, debates and other forms of intrapersonal conflict are less satisfied with working for the institutions that they are committed. The reduced commitment to professional responsibilities is a result of high-stress levels that result from intrapersonal conflicts. Essentially, when employees are subjected to stress on a result basis at their place of work, their attitude towards their responsibilities changes. As a result, their dissatisfaction with their work will be manifested through increased absenteeism, strict observance of off-days and neglect of extra working hours.
Negative Employee Turnover
Published literature reveals that the long-term effects of dissatisfaction are resignation or neglect of duty. In healthcare institutions where the management does not have an institutionalized effective conflict resolution policy, over time they lose their employees to other institutions or resignation. A workplace can have severe impacts on an individual physical, emotional, and psychological well-being (Brinkert, 2010). Especially, the nature of nursing practice is demanding, and if nurses are subjected to addition...
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