Blog | Friday, April 20, 2012

IM 2012: Having "the talk"

Erik Wallace, MD, FACP, of Oklahoma University School of Community Medicine offered suggestions today in a session called "Embracing Conflict" on how to have difficult conversations with people at work who are causing conflict. He advises, before the conversation:

 --making sure your intention is clear and you are open-minded to hearing the other person's point of view.
 --using a trusted advisor/mentor to test your approach and develop the right language.
 --blocking off enough time to have a thorough conversation. If it goes well, it will save a lot of time (and grief) down the road.

 During the conversation, take the following steps:

--Name the issue
--Describe the behavior you are concerned with
--Describe your emotions about the behavior
--Clarify what's at stake related to the issue
--State your own part in the problem (for eg, not bringing up the issue sooner)
--State your wish to resolve the conflict and grow the relationship
--Invite a response
--Inquire to deeply understand the other person's point of view
--Talk about how to move forward
--Come up with a plan and agreement for holding one another accountable.

When the conversation is over, take some time to reflect on how the conversation went, how you felt about it, and how you might improve the process in the future.