Navigating the Difficult Conversation Trifecta
By: Rachel Teichberg, CVPM
I’ve watched this scene a thousand times… Dorothy and the gang anxiously making their way through the forest chanting “lions, and tigers and bears, oh my!” As they quickly skip their way along the yellow brick road, they eventually meet their lion. In practice, you come face to face with a lion daily, except yours is in the shape of difficult conversations.
All day long you have conversations with your coworkers. You chit-chat about the weekend, discuss plans for the day, ask for help with lab work, direct someone to pick up line three, follow up on those retirement party plans, and debrief about cases. All of this conversation flows seamlessly until you have a critique, a suggestion, or a problem. Just like that, communication comes to a grinding halt as you try to avoid having what you believe will be an awkward or emotional conversation.
Each time you avoid feedback, coaching, and conflict conversations you may feel like you’ve gained something in the short-term by saving yourself from feeling uncomfortable (as many people jump through incredible hoops to avoid). In the long-term, the effects of avoidance will present as low morale, low performance, low efficiency, and high turnover. All of those factors will directly affect your bottom line.
Feedback, coaching, and conflict are, in fact, three separate types of conversations and tools which can be approached in different ways to improve performance in your practice. Feedback conversations should occur between all team members, regardless of their place on the organizational chart, and are focused only on things that were witnessed by the person giving the feedback. That’s right, no triangulated communication, no gossiping, no running to the manager.