Here's several tips which I've found to work well when dealing with strong personalities in clinical settings
Remain calm in spite of adversity
If you're feeling hungry, angry, late, tired or stressed (HALTS), you're much more likely to attract patient complaints because your more predisposed overreact to events.
Whenever possible between patients is a good time, take a moment to monitor your mood, do this several times a day and check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling. It will soon give you unconscious feedback as to when your most at risk to the ‘Triggers for emotional hi-jacking’
Mindfulness of your emotions is critical in the fast-paced world of modern dentistry. If you're someone who adapts to difficult situations rather than reacting in the heat of the moment, you will be perceived as remaining in control and solution oriented by colleagues.
After all, would it help you if you had to deal with someone who made you feel uncomfortable because of inappropriate outbursts?
When the person you are dealing with sees that you are calm despite whatever he/she is doing, you will start getting their attention.
Understand the person's positive intentions
No one sets out to do you harm, often other people's behaviours will have a positive intention which you should try to spot, in order to allow greater cooperation. For example, I wrote a marketing email to potential customers recently and later the very same day I received a reply from one of the customers correcting a variety of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. The positive intent behind this was to help me do a better job!
I wrote back and thanked this client for helping me out by correcting the shortcomings and educating me. The point here is to consider a simple question in any situation, and ask yourself what does this person need and how can you help to meet them in order to resolve the situation?
Perspective from others will almost always be a help
If the situation is something new or uncertain, it's possible that others you work alongside will have faced situations that are similar to the one facing you. Their personality and temperament will mean they can see situations from other perspectives.
Take time to consult others about a problem, you may find some golden insight amidst the conversation that hasn't occurred to you! Build stronger connections Audits of healthcare professionals that don't get sued even in the event of poor or unexpected outcomes, all point to the fact that the physician and patient relationship was strong. Patients don’t sue clinicians they like! Here in the UK 70% of malpractice complaints are directly linked to the failure of the relationship or unmet needs of the patient and have little to do with the doctors clinical skills.
Modern business in the digital age has become fast paced, pressurised, and mechanical with people writing emails, text messaging and remote working. Take time to invest in relationships with colleagues, replenish the emotional bank account between you. That way when challenges occur, you will both enjoy sufficient credit in your relationship to work on resolving situations more productively. Go out with colleagues try to get to know them better as friends, foster strong connections. This is closely related to developing increased emotional intelligence.
Focus on what can be acted upon to make the problem reduce quickly!
I have a staff member working for me and she's simply brilliant. In the event of something going wrong, she is proactive about its resolution. I can't recall in five years of working with this person that they harped on about an event. Instead, they remain completely focused on what can be done to get things moving again. Sometimes, you may be put into difficulty by a colleague, such as not receiving a piece of laboratory work on time or being wrongly held responsible for something you didn't do. Whatever it is, acknowledge that the situation has already occurred.
Rather than harp on about what you cannot change and the rights and wrongs of the situation, focus on the steps you can take to forward yourself in the situation.
I am a 3rd Dan Black Belt in Karate and learned early on to pick my fights carefully. If you have tried all the above without success then maybe the best way is to just ignore the person. Get on with your daily tasks and interface with the person only where needed.
Of course, this isn't feasible in cases where the person plays a critical role in your work – which leads to my last tip. Escalate to a higher authority for resolution. Only use this if you have exhausted all angles. The top-down approach, especially in larger, bureaucratic institutions will be the only way to get someone moving!
Please do be careful not to exercise this option all the time as you wouldn't want your manager to think that you are incapable of handling your own problems.
Since January 2009, Dentcom training has secured more than 200 Section 63 and section 2(Wales Deanery) courses for dental professionals. These include programmes on Communication for Profit, Complaint Handling, Team Building and Managing Stress. The multidisciplinary workshops take place in a variety of Postgraduate Medical Education Centres across the UK
Anthony has worked with nearly 2,000 dental professionals and had published articles in several dental industry magazines.
He has worked closely with the Defence Dental Services and enjoys many great relationships with Dental Tutors from all the Dental Deaneries.