Our dental offices report time and time again that the most crucial factor in their teams operating efficiently and effectively is great communication between staff members. However, putting this critical element into practice is usually easier said than done. With so many personalities coming together in a fast paced and sometimes stressful environment, it’s easy for the same voices to consistently overwhelm and be heard.
While you might think that being a “pleaser” and avoiding all confrontation is the best solution for creating a good dynamic within your team, this isn’t necessarily the case. Often, the best results are reached only after everyone’s input has been considered, not just that of the alpha personalities in the group. We aren’t talking about the type of squabble where one person’s goal is to prove the other wrong at all cost, rather the type of argument that involves rational people pursuing the best solution to a problem.
By definition, an argument has a couple of elements:
- “An exchange of diverging or opposite views…” and
- “A reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong…”
Basically, you disagree with someone and are trying to convince them why your opinion is best. Sounds like the recipe for raised voices and frustrated people, right? Not necessarily. Try implementing these strategies into your arguments to transform them from unproductive quarrels to helpful discussions that in the end lead to a better understanding and positive changes at your practice.
- Clarify: Besides just spouting off the reasons that your view is the correct one, clarify and support these reasons with well thought out details. (This will make you really think through your perspective.)
- Listen (with an open mind!): Once you’ve had the chance to speak, stop talking and really listen to and consider the other person/people and their opinions.
- Have a purpose: Both parties should enter the “argument” with an end goal in mind. Are you trying to identify a problem? Come up with a solution? Etc. (Note: “Prove I’m right.” Is not an acceptable objective for the type of productive argument we are shooting for here.)
- Be in the right setting: Obviously, it isn’t professional to have even a “helpful discussion” in front of patients. Use a conference room or designate a time when patrons aren’t present. Your “argument” should also take place at a point in the day that there is ample time to resolve the issue. A three minute break between patients isn’t an accommodating scenario for each person to effectively express themselves and have time to work together towards a solution.
- Pick your battles: We aren’t suggesting that every small issue be turned into an argument. However, if it’s causing incohesiveness, inefficiency, or hurt feelings within the team, or having any negative impact on your patients- it’s probably a matter worth addressing.
A productive argument can lead to more clearly established rules, better cooperation, deeper appreciation for your colleagues, and better dental practice tactics- just to name a few! Don’t do your team a disservice by never asserting your thoughts and opinions! Let constructive arguments be a valuable strategy to better the dynamic of the dental team and office.