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Tips for managing conflict in your veterinary team

Posted in Guest Blogger @ Aug 17th 2016 - By Sue Crampton, CCG
Tips For Managing Conflict In Your Veterinary Team 2

Conflict in your veterinary team is natural and normal - it's how you handle it that makes all the difference!

In interpersonal relations, conflict is as natural as breathing.  Conflict can happen for many reasons and present in many ways. When you’re working in a veterinary practice where there is constant stress and high pressure situations- conflict is bound to happen.

It is actually avoiding the management of conflict that creates the chaos and confusion in workplaces.

Most often, ignoring conflict ultimately leads to low morale and dysfunctional behaviour.

So, why is conflict so ugly?

Why do a lot of people prefer to avoid it? Conflict is not simply a misunderstanding or disagreement. It is more than that; otherwise you wouldn’t get so infuriated. Conflict is a disagreement sprinkled (or saturated depending on the person!) with emotion. And when you get infuriated or “worked-up”, so do your emotions. Your emotions then tend to control you, rather than you controlling your emotions. The blood rushes to our extremities (assists in our fight or flight response), as opposed to it rushing to our brain (where we really need it). When you’re in the middle of a conflict or even during the conflict resolution process, all your brain can do is tell you that you are right and the other person is wrong. That you’ve got to get all your information out, how you saw it, how you’re feeling, how they’ve affected you, and that it’s not resolved until the other person not only sees your point of view but essentially forfeit’s their side. Chances.....? Slim to none.

There are ways to effectively deal with conflict....

In order to effectively deal with conflict in the workplace there are a set of strategies you can use:


Take a deep breath in through your nose, count to three, and slowly let it out through your mouth. Try it. This gives you a chance to 'change your tactic' by moving into active listening (ensuring you are actually listening, it can be difficult sometimes when someone has gotten too carried away with their emotions to truly want to listen to them).

Don’t defend

At this point, defending will only add fuel to the fire.

Deal first with their emotions

People shout because they likely feel they are not being heard. Identify their emotion.

Accept your own feelings

First you need to accept your own feelings of frustration, hurt and bitterness, and accept that they’re not going to get you where you want to go. Put your concentration outside yourself, so the conflict has more chance of being resolved.

Conflict - it's neither good nor bad...

Conflict is neither good nor bad. It simply 'is' and due to our imperfect nature, it happens within every organisation. Managed and addressed in the wrong way, however, conflict can lead to genuine and justifiable differences between people. This can result in an un-cooperative, hostile team environment, which in turn can jeopardise a good reputation and the company’s mission. Using the techniques above will help you move in the right direction to solving these situations as they arise.

Have any questions on how to manage conflict in your workplace? Just ask Sue in the Comments section below...

Need more information on conflict resolution? CCG has a range of training solutions to help! Contact us on 07 3621 6005 or

About Sue

Sue Crampton is acknowledged as a leading speaker, trainer and consultant across Australasia in the areas of practice and organisational development, strategic planning, communication excellence, staff development and management. Sue has a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Human Resources and Marketing, as well as her Diploma in Company Directorship (GAICD) and a Masters in Neuro Linguistic Programming.  Sue invests time working as the Director of Education, Learning, Development and Consulting with Provet / Crampton Consulting Group and Animal Industries Resource Centre, while maintaining a weekend role as a veterinary nurse at a quality mixed practice in Brisbane.

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lisa blair @ Aug 29th 2016 7:45am
Hey Sue, great article on how to control myself during a conflict situation....but doesn't have any advice on how to move the other person to a listening mindset...if all I do is take a deep breath and let them have the floor, that's not "handling" conflict that's abdicating to a louder article please!

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