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11 - Working Through Conflicts with Colleagues

From “Being Right” to “Making Things Right”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2024

Robert M. Arnold
Affiliation:
The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh
Anthony L. Back
Affiliation:
University of Washington Medical Center
Elise C. Carey
Affiliation:
Mayo Clinic, Minnesota
James A. Tulsky
Affiliation:
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
Gordon J. Wood
Affiliation:
Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago
Holly B. Yang
Affiliation:
Scripps Health, San Diego, California
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Summary

Conflict with our colleagues is stressful and evokes strong emotion, yet handled well can improve outcomes and relationships and enhance collaboration. There are issues of hierarchy, power, and respect. Similar to dealing with conflict with patients is the need to establish a safe space, practice deep listening, and earn trust. Being open to exploring the breadth of the problem, both parties perspectives, your role in the conflict, how you feel about events, and what it means to you will help you approach the situation with a more open mind. Keeping a focus on improving the situation and relationship rather than solely on being right will help maintain calm. The roadmap for conflict with colleagues includes noticing when conflict is bubbling up, preparing your approach instead of jumping in reactively, starting softly to avoid provoking defensiveness, inviting the other person’s perspective before you share yours, using neutral language to reframe emotionally charged issues, acknowledging the emotion of the situation (rather than handling your colleague’s emotions directly), and finding a path forward that addresses both parties’ concerns, creating new options where needed.

Type
Chapter
Information
Navigating Communication with Seriously Ill Patients
Balancing Honesty with Empathy and Hope
, pp. 167 - 184
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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References

Further Reading

Brown, B. Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead. Random House, New York, 2015.Google Scholar
Fisher, R., Patton, B. M., and Ury, W. L., Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, 3rd ed. Penguin Books, New York, 2011.Google Scholar
Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., and Switzler, A.. Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations and Bad Behavior. McGraw-Hill, New York, 2005.Google Scholar
Stone, D. and Heen, S. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. Penguin Group, New York, 2014.Google Scholar
Stone, D., Patton, B., and Heen, S., Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, 2nd ed. Penguin Books, New York, 2010.Google Scholar

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