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Individual Differences And The Effects On Workplace Conflict

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As Managers, we can state that situations of conflict are inevitable and necessary when working as teams within an organization. Conflict occurs when people impertinently take a stand based on deviating perceptions or ideas from one another within a group. When working in a clinical setting this can be extremely challenging for managers as we must better assist and understand the conflict between physicians, employees and even patients. This can occur when there are disagreements in goals, actualities or expectations between team members and patients. In helping better assist our teams we must learn how to handle and interpret different conflicts that may arise in our organization.

Individual Differences and Organizational Constraints

Individual differences help us distinguish and define each person’s individually. A person’s psyche centers on how an individual may feel, think and is motivated. This also relates to how a person reacts within their social and physical environments. Setting the stage for our team, we can see how unique personalities, values, and emotions affect to what degree we behave and perform together collectively. Personal variables can be potential reasons why conflict may occur. Certain personality traits and cultural backgrounds define how we encounter conflict differently. Environmentally every human endures life experiences possibly from family dynamics, education, and even economic status. Diversity is very important in healthcare as we see many patients from all over the world. This can be challenging for both employees and the patients as they work together to better understand and assist patient needs. Numerous clienteles come from India and Asia, coming to America these patients must endure new life experiences. In India, healthcare is not as structured and formal as it is here. In the clinical setting, we use a “blue phone” which the patient and provider use to communicate, connected with a translator of their dialect. This is an organizational constraint as it is challenging and time-consuming needing patience between multiple people on one phone line to get information across properly and efficiently. For some, this can be overwhelming trying to assist patients who barely speak English and aren’t familiar with our customs in healthcare. Negotiation, especially with patients, is a daily endeavor when trying to reach an agreement on how we should treat an individual and how they can implement lifestyle changes improving their health (Clay-Williams et al.,2018).

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For employees, this can be overwhelming blending cultures and backgrounds together, and for patients, this can cause aggression trying to better understand. Through the process of negotiations between employees, we can see how this is also a great tool for clinical providers in patient care. By encouraging patients to express their concerns, invite questions to get a better understanding, encourage active participation in making decisions involving their personal choice in their health, and accommodate patients with additional information by acknowledging their concerns. During physician-patient interaction, this helps us to create a collective agreement with one another on how patients feel about their treatment plan together making a distinctive decision.

Individual Differences Influencing Conflict

Conflict is naturally apparent in any organization but becomes predominant in healthcare where continuous human interaction happens. The medial field proliferates with significant amounts of high stressors, this could be from many instances such as treatment of complex cases, resources to perform duties and even the emotional work of nursing (Hendel, T., Fish, M., & Berger, O. 2007). Nurses who work in higher stress environments such as the ER are seen to have increases in excessive burnout (Hendel, T., Fish, M., & Berger, O. 2007). For nurses, this can be prevalent as they not only hold the title of being caretakers but also managers and educators as well. From these roles’ nurses must work closely with physicians and administration members of the healthcare team, these interactions considerably increase the likelihood that conflict will arise. From learning not all conflict is bad but can be generated in clashing views on common goals, values, feelings and attitudes (Robbins, S. & Judge, T. 2019). In patient care, it is exceedingly important that communication is not misinterpreted as it can be destructive to a team and in rare cases cause detrimental effects to patient care. Many instances of dysfunctional conflict can come horizontally having to deal with direct and precise commands from a doctor, if information is miscommunicated there tends to be hostility in the air in forms of extreme verbal retaliation, aggression, and hostility. It is known that any group made to feel inadequate and powerless will always act on their frustrations towards one another (Ramsay, M. A. 2001). This comes from the high stress of having to make sure everything goes precise due to patient satisfaction, safety, and livelihood. One example from my experience was a staff nurse being a new hire, just moved to a new city and was trying to fit in at work. As a new employee, this was very hard, in which they had encountered negative feedback regarding their work strengths as a new nurse. Later, we as administrators had to sit down with this nurse because there had been some faulty issues regarding care for a patient appropriately. When we had asked this person, what had happened they stated how the negative effects and interpersonal experiences that she had been experiencing at work had impeded their ability to perform their job during their shift. In these circumstances, this can lead to high turnover, low morale, and unproductivity. Many times, as managers we encounter employees who are fearful to speak up and are more reluctant to recognize and resolve conflict causing avoidance. As managers, we must learn how to better assist our employees by distinguishing disagreement and how different language and actions are perceived differently. Through encouraging open discussions, we can converse differences and opinions addressing conflicts directly (Abraham, N. and Alberts, J. 2013). This helps employees develop a shared perception of a conflict, creating a mutual solution.


In summary, to more effectively manage in the workplace, we need to better understand the dynamics of how conflict is created and how to respond to conflict. Conflict can help a team as much as it can be destructive. Learning how to properly invest in a healthy work environment aids in ending negative and destructive behaviors creating healthy interpersonal relationships, strong teams, and increasing patient safety. Through negotiations and active listening with our clientele, we can collaboratively evaluate and devise a treatment plan for our patients assisting us in becoming a high performing team in the medical field.


  1. Abraham, N. and Alberts, J. (2013). Simplifying Shared Decision-making: Physician-Patient Interactions as Negotiations. American Gastroenterological Association.
  2. Clay-Williams, R., Johnson, A., Lane, P., Li, Z., Camilleri, L., Winata, T., & Klug, M. (2018). Collaboration in a competitive healthcare system: negotiation 101 for clinicians. Retrieved from
  3. Hendel, T., Fish, M., & Berger, O. (2007). Nurse/Physician Conflict Management Mode Choices. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 31(3), 244–253. doi:10.1097/01.naq.0000278938.57115.75
  4. Ramsay, M. A. (2001). Conflict in the health care workplace. Retrieved from
  5. Robbins, S. & Judge, T. (2019). Organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

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Individual Differences And The Effects On Workplace Conflict. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from
“Individual Differences And The Effects On Workplace Conflict.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
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