Using mediation techniques to manage conflict and create healthy work environments

AACN Clin Issues. 2004 Apr-Jun;15(2):182-95. doi: 10.1097/00044067-200404000-00003.


Healthcare organizations must find ways for managing conflict and developing effective working relationships to create healthy work environments. The effects of unresolved conflict on clinical outcomes, staff retention, and the financial health of the organization lead to many unnecessary costs that divert resources from clinical care. The complexity of delivering critical care services makes conflict resolution difficult. Developing collaborative working relationships helps to manage conflict in complex environments. Working relationships are based on the ability to deal with differences. Dealing with differences requires skill development and techniques for balancing interests and communicating effectively. Techniques used by mediators are effective for resolving disputes and developing working relationships. With practice, these techniques are easily transferable to the clinical setting. Listening for understanding, reframing, elevating the definition of the problem, and forming clear agreements can foster working relationships, decrease the level of conflict, and create healthy work environments that benefit patients and professionals.

MeSH terms

  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Dissent and Disputes
  • Health Facility Environment*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Negotiating*
  • Nurse Clinicians / standards*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Professional Competence
  • Workplace / organization & administration
  • Workplace / psychology*