I recently encountered a situation where I had to employ conflict resolution skills with a classmate I’ve gotten close to over our time in grad school. We studied together, sat together, and even shared the same clinical sites. To say the least—we were close. Maybe too close. To make a long story short, someone unintentionally offended someone during all the closeness grad school brings.

As a nurse, my first instinct was to fix the situation although I know that’s not always possible. Luckily, I was able to resolve the conflict between us and we moved on from there. How did I do this? I used what I’ve learned as a nurse and applied it to my personal life. I’ll try to break it down in a few easy steps:

Be Intuitive. I sensed something was wrong and followed up on it. All nurses know we have a keen sixth sense when something just isn’t right with one of our patients. This sense not only works with our patients but it can be used in our personal lives as well.

Be Proactive. Sometimes it’s better to let things be instead of taking a hands-on approach to issues when they arise, but sometimes you need to be proactive. I initiated the first conversation because I didn’t want to lose the friend I had shared so much with during our grad school journey over something trivial.

Listen. She spoke. I listened. I spoke. She listened. It was as simple as that. Nurses by trade are good listeners.

Be Empathetic. I took time to put myself in her shoes to see where she was coming from and how similar situations could be handled differently in the future. Use the empathy you have with your patients with people you may have conflict with.

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Plan. When everything was out and in the open, we both made a plan to follow from here on out to stay sane through our last few months of school. In the end, we decided for our situation we should be truthful when either of us felt upset or slighted in any manner.

Nurses are masters at adapting and working through tough situations. The next time you have a conflict with a colleague apply what you have learned as a nurse to resolve it.

 In addition to working as a RN, Nachole Johnson is a freelance copywriter and an author with her first book to be released later this year. Visit her ReNursing blog at http://renursing.wordpress.com.

Nachole Johnson, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC
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