A Nurse’s Courageous Approach to Workplace Conflict

My brother-in-law is a nurse anesthetist. He told me recently how frustrated he gets when colleagues talk about one another instead of talking to one another.


This is a man who isn’t afraid to speak up and “rock the boat” if needed. So, what did he do? Instead of fuming to another colleague or complaining to a superior, he went right to the source.


He simply stated: “I need to speak with you about this issue. You may have a negative perception of me because I deal with conflict head-on, but I’d rather have that than jeopardize patient care.”


Workplace conflict is not unique to healthcare settings. Every one of us has experienced stressful encounters or gossip at our place of work from time to time. Even virtual offices aren’t excluded from these challenges!


Facing gossip and conflict takes courage.


How often have you been frustrated with employees who complain and gossip about co-workers?


Or, found yourself in the middle of two people at odds with one another attempting to create harmony?


How many times in your attempt to create harmony, have people said “You’re not supporting me,” or “You’re playing favorites,” or “It’s your job to talk to them, not mine.”


Being the peacemaker can feel like a no-win situation.


Constantly putting out fires from infighting, gossip and unresolved conflict is exhausting. 


What’s the alternative?


Commit to facing the problem, no matter how uncomfortable it might feel.


My brother-in-law has the courage to face problems. Meaning, the willingness to speak the kind truth at the risk of being disliked. Having this kind of courage isn’t about being angry and finger pointing.


Rather it’s the courage to bring up issues and hold people accountable while facing the uncertainty of how others will respond. It’s genuinely caring enough to be uncomfortable and create the possibility of change for the better.


Even though the issue is yet to be resolved, he made an attempt to work toward a solution instead of avoiding or complaining to those uninvolved.


Patrick Lencioni, the pioneer of the organizational health movement, describes courage on great teams this way:


“where people trust each other, engage in open conflict, and then commit to decisions – team members have the courage and confidence to confront one another when they see something that isn’t serving the team.”


The opposite of courage is avoidance.


And avoidance has some serious costs. Avoidance leads to damaged relationships and unresolved issues. Issues that are a ticking time bomb waiting to implode your team and, ultimately, your business. In my brother-in-law’s case, a patient’s care was on the line.


What’s at stake in your business?


The cost of not dealing with workplace problems is alarming. Businesses lose millions of dollars in revenue and productivity while “looking the other way”.


Is there an issue at your office that you’ve been putting off handling? Do you need help learning to overcome conflict, address issues, and foster your own courage?


My conscious conflict coaching program will help you to create a team that is accountable, trustworthy, and committed to creating a healthy (and productive!) workplace.


Discover what conscious conflict coaching is and how it can help you overcome conflict-avoidance and other unproductive behaviors (as well as benefit everyone around you).


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