Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Conflict is inevitable in any work environment due to inherent differences in goals, needs, desires, responsibilities, perceptions and ideas. Interpersonal relationships within the workplace can make the difference between difficult situations and intolerable ones. Interpersonal conflictive interactions among members of the Health-care team create subtle unpleasant experiences that result in negative attitudes and behaviours. In turn, this can create a stressful work environment with negative consequences such as job dissatisfaction, weak organizational commitment, and lack of involvement, low morale, poor working relationships, a diminished sense of well-being, emotional exhaustion, a lack of trust and sense of support in the workplace, absenteeism, burnout and turnover.

 For the purposes of this guideline, interpersonal conflict is defined as: “…a dynamic process that occurs between interdependent individuals and/or groups as they experience negative emotional reactions to perceived disagreements and interference with the attainment of their goals.”