Addressing Conflict with Questions

When you encounter conflict, your first instinct may be to counter what the other person is saying. Or, maybe you like to immediately offer suggestions for how to resolve each point. While both responses are common, both paths often miss opportunities to get at the heart of the issues.

The next time you encounter conflict, remember the old adage that we were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason, and that reason is we need to spend twice as much time listening as we do talking. When your dental team members talk about problems with other team members or challenges with patients or frustrations with expectations, take time to listen. Then you are in the perfect place to address conflict with questions.shutterstock_291738458

Questions help you increase your level of understanding regarding what is driving the conflict. For example, if team members are not getting along, you may ask about specific situations that caused the tension. You can have each team member recall situations where the working relationship was strong and what not only made the relationship work well, but also what changed to cause the current conflict.

Questions help you determine what is happening and why, not just who is at fault. Questions also help you determine how you can better coach and manage the team member in the future. Just as you need to gather information from x-rays, perio charting, and an exam to make a diagnosis on a dental patient, you need to also gather information to properly diagnose how to resolve conflict.shutterstock_291418484

The next time you are confronted with conflict, please remember to spend time listening and asking questions before trying to come up with solutions. You will most likely be surprised at how your original assumptions about how to address the situation were not quite right. Addressing conflict with questions will make you an even stronger leader in your practice.

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