This week we cover the topic "The Causes of Dental Team Conflict and How to Handle Them."

There, of course, can be many causes of conflict, but I want to break it down into two categories:  Ethical Differences and good ole fashion Communication. 

If you have a circumstance of true ethical differences, you can always try to raise the bar for the person with the lower standard, but this might be an impossible process.  Graceful departure is probably the best outcome from these issues.  I don’t see many examples of this within dentistry, as most have a very high level of ethics.

Now Communication break downs, happen all too often.  Typical examples of these are one person thought someone else was responsible for something and the two weren’t on the same page.  In my experience, relationships fail because of mis-matched expectations.  I think this applies to all relationships, not just working relationships.  "I thought you were going to give me a raise" says a team member, and you were thinking not until next year.  I am embarrassed to admit how many examples of this I have within my marriage.  The good news is we have the skills to sit down and work through these differences.  That is the obvious solution to problems like this.

I personally think if two co-workers are having an issue with each other, they should attempt to handle this between themselves and leave the rest of the office out of it.  Now I fully understand that sometimes a mediator is helpful to resolve these differences, but we are all well educated adults.  

The first step is to sit down and discuss, in a calm cool fashion, what took place.  Our lesson we've taught in previous discussions, “Seek First to Understand then to be Understood” would apply very well.  All to often when we sit down to hear the grievance someone has with us, while we are listening we are working up our rebuttal vs actually listening.  We need to really understand not only what they are saying, but how they feel about it as well.  If we don’t deeply understand what went wrong, it will be very tough to resolve.  After one person explains their side, I would repeat it back to them to make sure you got it correct.  Then it is your turn to explain what happened and the other person’s turn to truly listen.  After both have completed this process, I would make sure you create a “Win-Win Solution”.  If either party feels like the loser in the solution, resentment will build and no resolution will actually take place.  Keep discussing a solution until both parties feel a Win-Win Solution.  Win-Lose or Lose-Win won’t work.  

I am not suggesting that this process is easy or fun, but it is effective.  What it will also accomplish is a far stronger relationship as an outcome.  Every person I have had a disagreement with that I went through this with (and there are more than I would like to admit) I created a much stronger relationship with.  I also find that I enjoy them more because I better understand them.

I hope you find this works for your business relationships as well as your personal ones, as it has for me.  Please feel free to share a success story with us.

Darren Kaberna


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