Don’t fall into the trap of settling for less than optimal
communication. There are ways to learn communication
techniques around common issues that better the
team, increase patient care and make the work environment
pleasurable for everyone. To be versatile in communication, try
- Be mindful of body language. Crossed arms, looking
away, pace of speech and tone of voice offer some insight
as to intention and meaning of a message.
- Ask questions first. If you want to know what someone
means by his or her remarks, body language or tone, ask.
So not to offend, start your questions with, “I’m curious…”
or “What do you mean by…”
- Don’t be offended by “why.” The word why as a question
requires a person to justify. Asking for clarification is
never a bad idea.
How Do You Deal with Passive
Here are a few tips on handling pesky, passive-aggressiveness.
- Stay calm. Before you respond, take a deep breath, tell
yourself to relax and think about what you want out of the
- Stick to facts. Focus on facts, not feelings. Facts include
all of those elements of a situation that are trackable,
observable and measurable.
- Resist temptation. Don’t mirror poor communication
habits. Instead smile, show empathy, ask questions and
state what you want and what you don’t.
How Do You Deal with Gossip?
Gossip is a bad habit that can be highly destructive to dental
teams. Nip it in the bud.
- Refuse to be drawn in. If a team member begins to gossip,
immediately excuse yourself from the situation. Even
listening validates the gossiper’s behavior.
- Confront the gossiper. Often people don’t realize what
they’re doing is gossip, so it’s important to let them know.
- Deal with the issue, not the person. When you approach
your co-worker, be sure to make it about the behavior and
not about the person.
How Do You Approach Someone with a Concern?
There are going to be issues that come up. That’s normal for
people working together. Address it early so you can keep it
small and manageable.
- Think it through. Ask yourself: Why is this a concern?
Why bring it up now? What do you want to happen or
not happen? How does this impact the team or patients?
- Set parameters. The most productive conversations are
ones with parameters. Stay on track and don’t hesitate to
- Resolve one at a time. Discuss and find solutions to one
concern at a time.
How Do You Settle a Conflict?
Some would be surprised to hear that conflict is extremely
healthy in any kind of relationship. Our relationships actually
deepen as a result of conflict, if handled correctly.
- Name the problem. What we often think is the problem
is actually not. The problem is typically a bit deeper.
When you fix the right problem, everything else falls
- Acknowledge personal contributions. Before approaching
someone to settle any conflict, be sure you know what
role you’ve played in it.
- Know what you want. Looking to resolve conflict without
a clear direction of what your ideal outcome is wastes
precious office time.
How Do You Work with a Friend?
As much as it can be great to work with people you’re close
to, there are cautionary lines to remember.
- Set boundaries. Clear, defined boundaries are necessary
for friends to work well together.
- Hang with others. When at work, associate with other
co-workers more than each other.
- Stay professional. How you act, treat, communicate and
partner with other teammates is the same consideration
you show your friend.
How Do You Work with Someone You
It’s normal to have varying levels of like and dislike with the
people you work with.
- Know why. When you know why, you can do something
about it. Not doing something about it isn’t an option.
- Consider the whole person. Teams are most successful
when they can articulate everyone’s strengths and navigate
- Move on. If there is someone who really pushes your buttons,
find a way to get over it. It’s not for you to fix him
or her or help the person change.