In last week’s post the use of reflection was suggested as a means to improve skill and competency in conflict management. In this post we will take a closer look at this technique. Reflection is thinking about a situation, experience or event to gain insight that changes how you respond to the next situation. Reflection is not a casual reminiscence or venting about an event; it is a deliberate assessment to identify problems and areas of improvement. Reflection is an excellent learning tool because it requires nothing more than an experience to analyze.
Take a moment to identify a conflict that you experienced recently. It should be an experience that you would like to have handled better. It could be a coworker’s attitude expressed at a staff meeting, asking for help and getting shrugged off by another nurse, arguing with the treatment team about a plan for a patient, an encounter with the on-call provider or a supervisor; the possibilities are endless. The following are three phases of reflective analysis. You can choose to write about the situation and your answers to the questions below or you can talk it through with a mentor or coach.
1. Describe the conflict situation. Identify and describe your relationship to each of the others in the situation. Your description should identify each of your actions but also what you were thinking and feeling at the time. The description also includes any biases, values, ethics or culture of the work setting that were a factor. Stop here and wait a couple days before returning to complete the next two steps.
2. Examine your description of the conflict. Select a yardstick or reference against which to evaluate the situation. You could use the conflict management styles discussed in Chapter 17 of the Essentials of Correctional Nursing. You could also use the Corrections Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice (American Nurses Association, 2007), particularly Standards 10-12 and 15 or another reference on conflict management. How did your actions, thoughts and feelings compare to the standard you selected for comparison? How did the environment or other aspects of the situation influence you? What intentions motivated each of your actions?
3. Identify gaps between what happened and what you would like to have happened. In this phase you are looking for gaps between actual practice and the standard of practice you selected for comparison. Gaps can be in the area of knowledge, skill, attitude or belief. These areas become the focus for further professional development. Typical questions you ask yourself in this phase are:
- Were my actions the most appropriate and successful ones possible?
- What were the most important things that got in the way of doing well and why?
- How could I change to better address conflict in the future?
At the conclusion of a reflective analysis of conflict you decide what you want to do differently in the next conflict experience. This may include changing the way you think or feel about a conflict or gaining knowledge or skill in a particular aspect of conflict management. At the very least reflection provides you with insight about the factors that influenced your feelings, decisions and actions during the conflict experience.
Have you used reflection to evaluate your practice in correctional nursing? Let us know how this technique works for you and any additional tips you have about the use of reflection to improve practice by writing in the comments section of this post.
Read more about reflective practice in Chapter 19 from Essentials of Correctional Nursing. Order your copy directly from the publisher. Use promotional code AF1209 for $15 off and free shipping. http://www.springerpub.com/product/9780826109514#.UDqoiNZlQf4
Asselin, M. E. (2011) Improving practice through reflection. Nursing 2011 April, 44-47
Freshwater, D. (2008). Reflective practice: The state of the art. In D. Freshwater, B. Taylor & G. Sherwood (eds). International textbook of reflective practice in nursing (pp. 1-18). Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing
Photo Credit:Catherine Knox 10/22/2008 at NCCHC in Chicago