I Have to Deal with People?
As a dentist, you would probably be most content taking care of patients’ teeth, for that is what a dentist does, right? In fact, as a dentist, you also happen to be a leader of your practice, and in being a leader, some of the responsibility of helping manage the office dynamics falls on your shoulders. Some keys in becoming more comfortable and effective in your leadership role involve coming to terms with the fact that interpersonal dynamics will exist, and the more effective you are at helping your staff develop skills to work through their issues, the more productive and positive your work environment becomes. Below are five hindering roles different people will inevitably play in your office dynamic, along with some suggestions for how you might address them.
1. Dominating. The behavior you might see in those who feel compelled to dominate are: Asserting authority or superiority to manipulate the group or certain members, interrupting contributions of others, or controlling through use of flattery or patronization. How you as a leader might intervene with these folks is to establish a procedure whereby each person contributes one idea to the discussion and then must wait until every other group member does the same before contributing again. You might also interrupt the dominator and ask him/her to summarize the point quickly so others can add their ideas, too. For example: “Thank you for giving us all those ideas, Erin. Let's hear from others in the group now.”
2. Withdrawing. People who tend to withdraw might be seen removing themselves psychologically or physically from the group, not talking, or answering questions only briefly. To facilitate greater engagement, do not let conflicts remain unresolved. Speak with the person privately to find out what is happening and direct questions to and solicit ideas from the avoider so this person stays involved. For example, say: “Carol, I have noticed that you haven't been as involved in the group lately. How can I help you?”
3. Degrading. Those who seem to want or need to degrade others often put down others’ ideas and suggestions, deflate others’ status, or joke in a barbed or sarcastic way. Some things you might do in these cases are: When your group first gets together, review a ‘behavioral contract’ or ‘code of conduct,’ including step-by-step ground rules highlighting that all ideas will be accepted. The first time someone criticizes another person, reinforce this rule. How you might speak to this: “You have a point, but we need to solve our problem, not attack each other's ideas.”
4. Uncooperative. To know when someone in your office is playing this role, notice if anyone seems to disagree with and oppose ideas, resist stubbornly the group’s wishes for personally oriented reasons, or use hidden agendas to thwart group progress. As the leader, you may want to incorporate statements in your code of conduct that deal with cooperation and interruptions and encourage this person to explain reasons behind his/her objection. Look for any aspect of the position that supports the group's ideas to help this person feel more aligned than he/she wants to be. Refocus his/her participation as a recorder or process observer. Finally, ask the group to deal with this uncooperative behavior. A phrase you might use is: “It seems like we may be forgetting the ground rules we set up as a group. Should we take a few minutes to revisit them now?” “…Sandy, that is an interesting view. Could you explain how you came to those conclusions?”
5. Side Conversations. When people do this in a small group context, it can be quite disruptive, on top of which, you may find yourself repeating important information. You might see people whispering, giggling and having private side conversations. To intervene, you might want to set guidelines and expectations at the beginning of a meeting and/or stop the meeting and ask those involved in the side conversation to share what they are talking about with the group. You could also stop the meeting and comment that it is difficult for you to hear the other discussion or to concentrate on the topic at hand with side conversations occurring. Another approach could be to privately talk with the distracters and discuss their expectations for the meeting's topics and empower others to confront the distracters with how these side conversations keep everyone from concentrating on the group's discussion. Some scripting might sound like: “I am having trouble focusing on the discussion with the side conversations going on. Is anyone else experiencing this? I sense we are losing people's attention and interest, can we do a check-in to see where people are on this topic?”
Dr. Gale provides coaching and training to enhance leadership skills, interpersonal communications and team building. If you would like to learn more, contact him at email@example.comForward this article to a friend
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