Strategies for Embracing Conflict: A Necessary Skill for Teamwork

Tuesday, Jul 31, 2018, 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Healthcare professionals tend to be conflict avoiders because conflict is perceived as disruptive, uncaring, and unprofessional (Eichbaum, 2017).  In addition, health care professionals are not traditionally taught effective strategies for engaging in conflict, but may revert to superficial agreement. The culture of avoiding conflict in healthcare undermines team relationships and creates an unhealthy environment of competition (Scott & Gerardi, 2011).

Effective teams do not suppress or avoid conflict, but they engage, embrace and harness it (Eichbaum, 2017; Mayer, 2009; Edmondson, 2012). The tension and energy that arises from conflict can evoke creativity, innovative analysis, and expand learning (Eichbaum, 2017).

This interactive session will provide participants with the opportunity to identify and analyze their conflict styles using the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict (TKC) Mode Instrument framework. Participants will practice how to flex their conflict style to stay with conflict in ways that enhance interprofessional collaboration. Participants will leave with increased awareness of their own preferred conflict engagement style and practical strategies that can be used to facilitate healthy conflict engagement in interprofessional teamwork. 

Building resilient teams that not only care for patients, but respect one another, is essential in attaining the Quadruple Aim.

By the end of this presentation, participants will be able to:

•    Identify the distinction between conflict resolution and conflict engagement

•    Assess and identity your dominant conflict style using the TKI instrument

•    Practice strategies for flexing your conflict style and shift from avoidance to engagement

•    Describe how you will use conflict engagement strategies to enhance team resiliency in your workplace

Active learning styles:

•    Improvisation exercise in groups

•    Group discussions

•    Self-reflection and applications to current work setting


  1. Edmondson, A.C. (2012). Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy. California: Jossey Bass.
  2. Eichbaum, Q. (2017). Collaboration and Teamwork in the Health Professions: Rethinking the Role of Conflict. Academic Medicine, 1-7.
  3. Mayer, B. (2009). Staying with Conflict: A Strategic Approach to Ongoing Disputes. California: Jossey Bass.
  4. Scott, C. & Gerardi, D. (2011). A Strategic Approach for Managing Conflict in Hospitals: Responding to the Joint Commission Leadership Standard, Part 1. The Joint Commission journal on Quality and Patient Safety, 37(2), 59-69.

Interprofessional Continuing Education

This activity has been planned and implemented by the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education. In support of improving patient care, the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to provide continuing education for the healthcare team. The intent is to provide accreditation and continuing education credit for this workshop. For questions regarding continuing education, please email