Dos and don'ts for resolving conflict

In any office environment, some conflicts are inevitable. But regardless of whether tensions arise among staff, between employees and patients, between managers and doctors or otherwise, it's crucial to nip problems in the bud.

Although many managers may be loathe to get involved with what may seem like petty tensions, Paula Comm, administrator at PRA Behavioral LLC, a three-site psychiatric practice near Chicago, told FiercePracticeManagement she's got strict orders from her head physician not to let even the most minor issue fester.

To effectively move from problems to solutions at your office, consider the following conflict-management dos and don'ts derived from a recent Forbes post:

DO

  • Listen to the parties describe the problem, without interrupting, and paraphrase the issue back to them.
  • Invite participants in the conversation to suggest potential resolutions, and follow up with questions to test the feasibility of their ideas.
  • Prepare what you want to say in writing before engaging in a difficult conversation. If you have determined you need to end a relationship with an employee or business associate, for example, these notes will help you stand firm and avoid being talked into changing your mind.

DON'T

  • Don't criticize any potential solutions being offered as part of the discussion, but emphasize that it is a brainstorming session to explore the range of solutions.
  • Don't rehash old information about how a problem arose, which keeps the discussion from moving forward toward resolution. Similarly, if the goal of the conversation is to sever a relationship, avoid getting into the "whys" or placing blame, and stick to the facts.
  • Don't avoid problems. When any miscommunications or problems bubble up within Comm's office, for example, she is determined to deal with them immediately. "And it's healthier because I process it. We try to problem-solve it. There's no blaming. We just try to figure out what's the misunderstanding and how do we fix this in the future," Comm said.

To learn more:
- read the post from Forbes

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