If you work in a high-stress workplace such as a healthcare facility or medical office, the day-to-day interactions you have with your coworkers can be a lifeline in difficult times. In fact, some of the greatest unity comes through shared conflict. However, when the conflict that arises is between coworkers, a toxic work environment can spell bad news for everyone involved. Yet, sometimes the art of an honest and open conversation can make all the difference.

Are you facing the prospect of having a difficult conversation with a coworker? Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a conversation that guarantees healthy and helpful outcomes for everyone involved:

Four Conflict Considerations

Want to know a secret? The majority of the hard work that comes with having a really difficult conversation with a coworker actually happens between you, your heart, and your head. Sometimes the anxiety, stress, and guilt that rises when conflict happens can keep you from thinking straight and approaching the situation with a clear strategy.

To better prepare yourself for your next difficult conversation, take these four steps into account:

Step 1: Inquire

When you step into a difficult conversation, your first gut-reaction may be to go on the defensive and speak your mind before they say a word. However, the first step in deescalation is to extend an olive branch to your coworker and invite them in to speak their mind first. This inquiry period – asking questions that allow them to explain themselves without fear of backlash – allows for you to better understand their view as well as create space for safe and honest conversation.

Step 2: Acknowledge

This may be the most difficult step – acknowledging the validity of your coworker’s concern. At this point, it is vital that you build up the other individual by letting them know through your verbal and non-verbal communication that you hear them, understand, and are willing to listen.

Step 3: Advocate

After two steps of allowing the other person to speak their mind and hopefully let off some steam, you now have permission to speak into the situation. Build your case while seeking to advocate for your and their viewpoint, showing that you care about where they are coming from. Don’t be afraid to speak your opinion as well, but by allowing them the first opportunity to speak you will have laid a foundation for a safe conversation.

Step 4: Problem-Solve

Now it gets productive. Based on where the conversation has gone, use the information you inquired about and create a solution that allows you to move forward productively. Make sure to continue advocating and acknowledging the other’s opinions, allowing them to speak into any possible solution that comes up. Together, you can work toward building relational credibility.

Bonus Round: Conversations Starters

Now that you know some of the tips and tricks for navigating difficult and painful conversations with your coworkers, it’s time to put those skills into practice! Here are some great conversation starters that can help get a difficult chat off on the right step:

  • “Hey, have a minute? I’d like to chat about something that will make it easier for us to work together moving forward.”
  • “I want to talk to you about something, but can you give me your opinion first?”
  • “I just experienced something that I really need to talk about. Could we share a moment together to talk about it?”
  • “I would love to hear your thoughts on a specific topic.”
  • “I think you have a really interesting view on this specific topic, would you be open to talking more about it with me?”

Again, practice these conversation starters with someone that you trust and are comfortable with before jumping in with a contentious coworker to make the process easier when it’s real!

H1: Apollo Is Here to Help

The team at Apollo is passionate about creating and producing quality content that helps healthcare and frontline workers connect and grow in their industry. By connecting qualified candidates to hospitals and medical facilities, we work alongside you to ensure that one of our most important industries remains fully-staffed, healthy, and thriving. Find out more about Apollo online.

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