5 easy steps to help your team resolve conflict in the dental practice

Unless you live in some remote jungle or only work with plants, you will interact with lots of other people during your lifetime. The people I am talking about are not the strangers with whom you make brief eye contact for just a second or pass in a hallway.

I am referring to the people with whom you consistently interact on a daily basis. Your success depends greatly on these relationships! Life would also be much more enjoyable if conflict did not exist … but that isn’t real life!

The problem is that many of us go through life trying to avoid dealing with conflict out of fear. We hope it will just go away, but the more we try to avoid it, the more it builds until it eventually causes serious damage to the relationship. 

Our fear of conflict is the problem, but fear is really only a negative prediction about the future and not reality. Whether or not we take action is governed by a simple ratio: our perception of danger versus our confidence in our ability to handle the conflict. 

If we believe we can resolve the conflict, the amount of fear we feel is minimized and we will take action. This is why it is so important to teach our team members the mindsets and skill sets they need to give them confidence that they can handle conflict.

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The first step is to start with our mindset about conflict. If we tear it apart, conflict is really just conversation where there is a disagreement because of a difference of opinion or expectation. So what is so scary about talking about a difference of opinion or expectation? We can eliminate the negative emotional energy from our conversation by coming from a place of care and concern and asking questions instead of judging and criticizing. 

Next are the skill sets. The five-step process listed below will give your team members the skill sets they need to successfully resolve conflict. It will change the focus of the conflict conversation from who did what wrong to what we can do in the future!

Editor's Note: Learn more from Judy Kay Mausolf in this exclusive video interview...

ADDITIONAL READING: 3 ways to build patient value in the dental practice

Here are 5 easy steps to help your team resolve conflict!

Set up a time to meet with the person with whom you have a concern or conflict (they may not have time right at the moment) and don’t tell anyone else!

Be open and listen. Don’t come to the table with the solution … you don’t know the why behind their reasons.

Don’t personalize. Instead of saying, “You did this,” say, “I am not sure what you meant by this,” or, “Can we talk about what happened today?” Talk about the situation and not the person.

Focus on the solution … what can be done to prevent it from happening again in the future versus who did what wrong. It will not be perfect for anyone, but can be good for everyone.

If you can’t resolve the conflict, all team members involved should meet together with whoever handles conflict resolution and agree on a solution.

It is so important to teach our team members the mindsets and skill sets they need to give them confidence that they can handle conflict.

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