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Dealing with conflict

Conflict can arise when we are being asked to act outside of our own core values, or when our core values and needs are at odds with each other. 

Feelings of conflict can sometimes be expressed in negative and unhelpful behaviours – defensiveness, anger, or avoidance. 

Conflict often occurs if one group is too assertive in trying to achieve  their own goals whilst not addressing the needs of others. Considering your needs and the needs of others when communicating and making decision can help avoid conflict.

See RCOG eLearning on managing your team and leadership.

Infographic: Assertive vs cooperative chart

RCOG infographic showing a chart with 4 quadrants, "assertive/non-assertive" up the y-axis and "cooperative/non-cooperative" on the x-axis

Developing your ‘emotional intelligence’ can help you to manage conflict better. Emotional intelligence is about managing oneself effectively. It is a social intelligence that allows one to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions and use these to guide one’s actions.

The following table is redrawn from "Emotional Intelligence Has 12 Elements. Which Do You Need to Work On?" by Golman et al (2017)

Self-awareness Self-management Social awareness Relationship management
Emotional self-awareness

Emotional self-control


Achievemnt orientation

Positive outlook


Organisational awareness


Coach and mentor

Team work

Inspirational leadership


Other resources for avoiding conflict