The Art of Collaboration:
The new movie “Lincoln” is thought-provoking. It portrays a President struggling to do the right thing for the collective, while facing dissension and obstructionism from both the opposition, and from his own party and cabinet members. Mustering considerable interpersonal skills and political savvy, Lincoln was able to overcome or outwit all objections, pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, end the Civil War and begin reunifying the nation. Certainly we all can’t all be Lincoln, but what can we learn from his strategies to help us resolve our own workplace conflicts?
Strife among co-workers is one of the most costly side effects of doing business… and the healthcare sector is not exempt. As our facilities shift to more interdisciplinary treatment approaches, more differences of opinions will certainly arise concerning patient care. So how do we deal with workplace conflicts? Most of us employ at least one of five recognized strategies: avoidance, accommodation, competition, compromise or collaboration. The first three behaviors often produce results that are counterproductive. For example, avoiding unpleasantness at all cost, may find us calling in sick more or requesting transfers. The end result is decreased productivity, loss of wages and reduced quality of care.
Instead, like Lincoln, we must train ourselves to use compromise and collaboration in resolving disputes and not allow situations to escalate. In a 2006 article for Elsevier, Pam Marshall, RN, LLB, LLM recommends the AVID approach: Assume the positive; Validate the situation; Ignore some battles; and Do something to de-stress. Lincoln’s strength was his ability to find common ground with those who didn’t share his strongly held principles. A conflict free/stress free workplace only happens if we are prepared to listen, understand and validate other viewpoints, with the goal of providing for patients’ needs… no matter whose idea it is. Sometimes finding common ground can be difficult, despite our best efforts. That is when employing intermediaries becomes essential, just as Lincoln did when his Amendment vote count was short.
Every healthcare professional, whether you are an RN, PT, PTA, OT, COTA, SLP, or CHT will likely encounter difficulties with colleagues and/or employers. But if you master the art of collaboration, most issues can be resolved. Call the Centra Team at 800 535 0076 and let us collaborate with you in selecting your next great work environment!