Maslow’s Need for Conflict Resolution

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Updated: Jun 29, 2022
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Phyllis has a mental health issue called schizophrenia, that has a side effect of auditory hallucinations that caused her to wreck all her furniture one day. Phyllis was placed in a psychiatric care unit at Conflictia Hope Hospital where she received care from Dr. Nguyen, a psychiatrist. She was placed on an involuntary hold because of the danger that comes with this disease. Phyllis easily stops taking her medication due to factors, the last being she felt lethargic and unmotivated. This is the conflict.

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Phyllis wants to be released from the hospital, but she will be putting people at risk because she doesn’t always take her medication as she should. The hospital wants to help Phyllis transition for life outside but lately Phyllis has been disobliging with the staff, initiating problems and delays with her release. The hospital wants to bring in Sandy as third party, since Phyllis has a good relationship with her, to help to negotiate a plan.

My first learning objective is to apply Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to conflict resolution to improve problem solving skills. My next learning goal is to acknowledge what theories correlate best to distinct conflicts and how to integrate them within the conflict accordingly. My final learning objective is to develop a core competency on why emotional intelligence is vital to communication, negotiating, and most importantly conflict. Preparation is important for any type of conflict, but this conflict is a higher-level conflict due to the matter of public safety. The first step in preparing for conflict resolution is to ask what is the overall goal for the negotiation? Phyllis’s main goals are to leave the hospital so she can be left alone. Sandy’s goals, on behalf of the hospital, are to come up with a treatment plan that Phyllis and the hospital will agree with so she is able to go home and function with society.

Sandy will need to implement a contract a might need to be creative to make both parties happy with the resolution. Once we define our goals, we then need to figure out some achievable objectives. The main objectives in this conflict resolution are the following, Establish a treatment plan that both parties will accept, Promote building a positive relationship between both parties, and Prepare a contract for both parties that limits what we are working toward. These objectives will help us stay the course when we are negotiating. The next question is what approach will be considered. Although we are using the interest-based negotiation, both power and rights approach are how we will begin. This will become clearer when we get into the overview of the intervention, but I will provide a brief reasoning. This starts at power-based because of Sandy and is rights-based because of Phyllis. Sandy is a social psychologist who has the power in this situation. She and the hospital will determine the fate of Phyllis.

Although they have the power, Phyllis has rights! She has laws backing her saying what can and cannot be done. Phyllis has a voice and will make sure she will be heard. The main approach we want to use is the interest-based approach. The process where parties jointly problem solve their mutual interests instead of promoting their exclusive rights is called the interest-based approach. This approach focuses on interests, not positions, invent options for mutual gain, and building positive relationships. When preparing, we need to ask if diversity plays a role in our conflict. For this conflict resolution, diversity does play a role, although cultural diversity does not. Since we have already planned the outline and structure for the negotiation, the next step is to plan how we are going to handle the conflict itself.

We need to figure out how we are going to approach Phyllis, as a high-level conflict since she is angry at Sandy for “siding with the hospital.” We need to be more strategic and careful with what we say. The best way to prepare might be to say our hellos, gain her trust, and have her tell us about her needs by sharing pertinent information. We now must prepare for the meeting itself. We need to plan the time around the mid-day, that way no one feels pressured and we can take breaks if needed. This meeting will be at the hospital, but we need to know where at. We want to be comfortable and make sure Phyllis feels like this is a trusting environment. The meeting should be somewhere like a small office that way it’s not too big and it feels warm and safe.

The next item to prepare for is Sandy needs to be able to approve for certain items on the spot. The hospital should review this with her beforehand at a pre-meeting. This will help her with the negotiating, that way it doesn’t feel forced or like she is under the hospital’s thumb on everything. The last part for preparing the meeting will be rules of engagement. We need to make sure Phyllis knows if she overreacts or does something unsafe, the negotiations will be off immediately. There will also be other ground rules for communication. These rules include not interrupting the other person until they are finishing presenting their notion, no yelling, and you are only allowed to veto two terms (within reason).

Once the meeting started, both women sat down and began with the introductions. Sandy made Phyllis feel better because she listened to her when. Phyllis is better with her basic needs but still needs to get back up the hierarchy. She has the first two, maybe three notches on the hierarchy and now she is still working on progressing to the next level. Therefore, it is challenging to negotiate with her. Sandy made a breakthrough by listening to her and now, it will be easy to talk to her about what is to come for her future and to get these next few levels and make sure complete again. Sandy should talk to Phyllis about her treatment plan and how they need to come together and give the hospital something so they can get her out of there. She makes it clear to Phyllis that she can be released and live a life healthy, but she needs to take her medicine regularly and with that comes the treatment plan.

Phyllis is reluctant but wants to leave the hospital. I think what benefits both the hospital and Phyllis would be for Sandy to come up with a treatment plan where Phyllis has to take her medicine every day but come to the hospital once a week for check in’s to see if she is doing alright. If Phyllis is doing well, then eventually they can extend these visits to every two weeks, three weeks, monthly, and so on. This allows the hospital to have proof she is taking her medication regularly while she is living her own life on the outside. If Phyllis doesn’t agree to this, we should try hat-switching or flipping. This might help Phyllis interpret things from a new point of view or reverse the alternative. If Phyllis won’t agree to this, we must now investigate something else. There is another way where she won’t be hospitalized where she can live at home. If Phyllis has insurance coverage, we can look into a hospice type care where someone lives with her, takes care of her, and makes sure she takes her medicine daily.

This is an alternative. Phyllis likely won’t like this one, but the hospital would like it more. Phyllis gets upset over anything that pertains to hospitalization or involves someone living at her home because it feels similar. She relates this to her being an infant and not able to take care of herself. It is important to utilize emotional intelligence when negotiating. When you can problem solve whiling reading someone’s EQ, it helps the situation significantly improve. In fact, emotional intelligence enhances our capacity for self-awareness and self-regulation. Anger is the most crucial emotion of them all because depending on how you exploit it, it might be destructive or beneficial. Sandy must use her skill set and make sure she doesn’t offer something to Phyllis that might make her shut down.

The offer about a live-in nurse might do that. We need something that will interest both parties. In this circumstance, the final offer would be to develop a contract with Phyllis to let her go out to the public on her own recognizance, but if she signs this contract and fails to take her medication she will be in violation of her contract and will be hospitalized. She only gets this one chance to show that she can do this. This gives Phyllis that chance to live on her own and show she can take her medicine and be an adult while also allowing the hospital to have necessary documentation. The theory surrounding Phyllis is the personality and cognitive theory. The personality theory describes Phyllis perfectly because according to Barsky (1999) she has persistent characteristic traits that affect how to deal with conflict.

Based on this theory, we need to handle negotiations differently. Phyllis has a low self esteem because of her disorder and even little confrontation might feel threatening to her. “Cognitive theory explores the relationships between thought processes, emotions, and behaviors.” Phyllis tends to have a reactive devaluation in some manners when it comes to hospitalization. The BATNA would be coming in the hospital for check-ins. In conclusion, the conflict can be resolved a few various ways, but the best way is the contract. If not, we would implement the BATNA. We collaborated with both parties’ interests and at this point everyone wins and loses something. The most important aspect to remember with the interest-based approach is to build positive relationships, invent options for mutual gain, and obtain commitments.


  1. Barsky, A. E. (1999). Conflict Resolution for the Helping Professions: negotiation, mediation, advocacy, facilitation, and restorative justice. New York: Oxford University Press.
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Maslow's Need For Conflict Resolution. (2022, Jun 24). Retrieved from