In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and workplace confrontation, so said Benjamin Franklin in 1789.
As an agency nurse, you are bound to encounter some form of workplace confrontation at some point in your career, it’s inevitable and completely natural. I mean with the pressure and challenges of a modern-day nursing environment it’d be unheard of if there wasn’t some form of conflict at some point.
There’s a whole host of reasons why an agency nurse may encounter workplace conflict it could be down to personality clashes, unrealistic needs and expectations, unresolved workplace issues or increased workloads.
As an agency nurse, you’ll be exposed to a whole host of colleagues and environments across your career. The way in which you identify and subsequently deal with potential conflict will set you apart and put you in good stead for a successful and long career.
So, what can you do to combat workplace conflict?
Five simple steps will help.
1. Talk it out
Now, it may sound obvious but talking to the other party and hearing their issues first hand is key to finding a resolution.
There may be other parties involved trying to push their own agendas and spread gossip or hearsay. This is not helpful and often distracts from the real issues at the heart of a disagreement.
Better to sit down (timing permitting of course) in a neutral environment away from prying eyes and be frank with each other. Leave the egos at the door and see if you can thrash out a solution or even a compromise that will satisfy both parties needs.
2. Listen up!
Sometimes you’ve just got to listen to reason. In almost every argument everyone wants to talk and get their point across and get everything out in the open.
This often leads to verbal diarrhoea and while you might feel the more you say the more weight your argument carries it is important that both sides take time to listen. And I mean really listen.
Actively listening involves making mental notes of problem areas. After points have been presented and listened to it may be that there is a simple solution to the initial problem and that both parties are more similar than different.
3. Agree on the problem together
Now it’s time to really drill down and identify any underlying issues behind the conflict.
It may seem like the problem is over the borrowing of a pen but really, it's more to do with respect and communication. Also, there shouldn’t be any finger-pointing or trying to put more blame on one side than the other. Nobody appreciates this and this will only serve to deepen divisions with even an even smaller chance of a solution being reached.
Both parties should reach an agreement on what the problem is together.
4. Put your heads together and come to a solution
Find a solution together! Once the underlying cause of the feud has been realised together it's time to find a solution that benefits everyone.
This one may require a bit of compromise and it may be hard to swallow your pride but look at the bigger picture.
Once you understand the other sides issues and have worked out a solution that works for everyone things should be a lot smoother when working together.
5. Build on that success
Finally, build on that success. The hard bit is done and the unachievable has been achieved.
Now you need to keep building on this newly found peace. Sharing success and working together more frequently builds up trust and shows the other person that the past is truly in the past.
Embrace the success and reflect on a job well done!
Now, this isn’t a definitive guide for agency nurses to resolve conflict but hopefully, it’s a good place to start and is food for thought. No matter your role, from HCA to RGN to ITU nurse, your actions can have a big impact on the way in which conflict is identified and ultimately dealt with whilst on shift.