Got Conflict? Defuse Situations Before They Turn Volatile

By Harvard Business Review
January 22, 2018

Disagreements are a fact of life in any workplace. Here are some ways physician leaders can resolve the problem.

People often jump to blaming others in conflict. Instead of reducing stress, however, having an accusatory mindset toward others only fuels the frustration. To defuse the situation and return to a place of peace, you must first examine your own contribution to the conflict — no matter how small.

What does this look like in a practical sense? Here are a few tips that can help.

Clarify exactly what happened. When you’re agitated by what someone did or didn’t do, there’s most likely something below the surface. Examine the situation that got you so upset and explore the broader context. Was something else going on in your life that had an impact on how you saw the event? Are you tired, stressed, hungry? Identify any external factors at play.

Explore why it triggered you. Your emotional reaction to a situation with someone has more to do with you than with them. When you’re feeling uncertain about your projects, believe that people think badly of you at work and are insecure about your team’s performance, one little slip-up could send you over the edge.

Communicate with clarity and compassion. If you recognize that there are legitimate issues that still need to be addressed, you can do so. But for the best results, focus on compassionate communication. Say something like "When you turned in this report late, I ended up working until 2 a.m. and missed my son’s soccer game. For us to work together effectively, I need to receive reports on time from you.” Then move on to find a solution together.

Copyright 2017 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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