Prioritizing Tasks: The Most Common Workplace Conflict

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Of the various types of workplace conflicts, prioritizing tasks is the most common type that happens between staff members. In my practice, the complicated and tense situation occurred between two nurses, whose interests were opposite. One of them needed assistance with handling the request of a patient while she was busy with an urgent matter. The other nurse considered that she should help another patient with his emotional struggles related to relationships with his ex-wife. As a result, their voices increased, and complaints were provided to the chief nurse. It is evident that the prioritization of obligations was the cause of the conflict since each of the parties was sure in the correctness of their actions.

Possible Solutions

The described conflict was resolved in favor of the nurse who needed help since the management decided that emotional issues could be delayed and are less important compared to physical procedures required for another patient. Papastavrou, Andreou, and Vryonides (2014) state that the majority of nurses prioritize care delivery depending on perceived patient medical requirements, such as medication, hygiene, and others. Even though this approach can be regarded as fair, it seems that emotional problems should also be considered seriously to avoid suicidal attempts and psychological diseases development. To make sure that the mentioned decision was appropriate for all the parties, one may consider tracking the health outcomes of both patients and marking any changes.


This conflict could have been avoided if the staff was educated on the prioritization of care processes and procedures (Choe, Kang, & Park, 2015). Addressing staff shortage, promoting positive workplace relationships, and developing communication skills in nurses can be used to prevent similar conflicts in the future.


Choe, K., Kang, Y., & Park, Y. (2015). Moral distress in critical care nurses: A phenomenological study. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 71(7), 1684-1693.

Papastavrou, E., Andreou, P., & Vryonides, S. (2014). The hidden ethical element of nursing care rationing. Nursing Ethics, 21(5), 583-593.