Addressing and resolving conflicts is something most people avoid, including doctors! But in reality, conflicts will always emerge. But, conflicts left unattended will cause much anxiety and furor. Resolving conflict requires a specific set of actions and determination.

Know where you are.
Get a grip and examine the situation with the intent to reach a “realistic” solution. Recognize that this can’t be accomplished if either side is unwilling to budge. Help the opposition to understand your position and seek to understand theirs and how they arrived at such an outlook. A reasonable solution is likely to require compromise on both sides, so be willing to bend.

Be impartial.
This is not an easy task. You may have an inflated opinion of the value of what you bring to the table or possibly a misconception about the opposing party. Data is the best way to achieve objectivity. This can be accomplished by comparing data to national averages for your specialty. Such standards are available through professional associations such as the Medical Group Management Association,MGMA, and the National Society of Certified Healthcare Business consultants, NSCHBC.

Be a good sleuth.
Listen carefully to everyone’s viewpoint, most importantly those you are trying to sway. Understand where they are coming from and what is important to them. The more you know about the opposition, the better prepared you are to address the issues important to them.

Clarify the desired outcome.
What is essential to you and what are pracdtice leaders “really” want to achieve. It’s a matter of recognizing the ideal outcome and the “acceptable” outcome that prepares you for effective negotiations.

Respect different viewpoints.
It’s unlikely that everyone will see things from the same perspective, but without respecting others varying opinions we are unable to dig dipper to understand them and how to achieve an acceptable solution from their viewpoint.

Just the facts. Bring facts to the table. It will diffuse subjective opinions and provide an opportunity to sway others and develop a consensus. Objective reasons will outweigh subjectivity, but you must stay on course and keep coming back to the facts. This is when you will begin to effectively examine both the pros and cons of a particular outcome and clarify what actions are acceptable for the common good.

Look at the options.
Explore the “what ifs” and collectively it will be easier to determine what actions are likely to succeed or fail. By a process of elimination you will obtain a logical conclusion that is acceptable for opposing parties.

Expect a doable solution.
If one party fails to compromise and inhibits the others from reaching a solution, it may be necessary to give him or her an ultimatum. This is a difficult situation, but sometimes one person can create an obstacle that will result in the entire group paying the price, unless it is dealt with. This is a critical point that must be recognized.

Conflicts are bound to occur from time to time and consensus is not always achieved without difficulty. But, if you apply these simple tips you are far likely to resolve conflict and achieve your goals.

Remember, the idea is for everyone to be satisfied with the outcome. And sooner is always better than later.

Contact Judy Capko, one of America’s best known practice management consultants: www.capko.com

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