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Mediating Disputes for Effective Healthcare Relationship Firefighting

The practice of healthcare is demanding and stressful. Conflicts materialize in most human interactions and the medical field is no different. Actually, it might be more expected. Yet there is a solution.

There is a way to do it better – find it.” (Thomas Edison)

Conflict research. Mediating those disputes in early stages, regularly.

Why? It couldn’t be a smarter decision. Why? It attacks problems, not people.

It is assertive against attacks on teamwork, harmony, professional relationship behavior and positive emotions. It protects productivity, encourages understanding and heals relationships.

It is a prescription for anger, resentment, hatred and aggressiveness or passive-aggressive behavior. It helps people be part of the solution, moving away from blame, instead taking accountability and thinking of how something can be accomplished.

It lessens the likelihood of people not showing up for work, daydreaming on or strongly considering gossiping,working with no enthusiasm, physical attacks or quitting.

It problem solves before costs, small and large (turnover, patient health or negative emotions or malpractice possibly) become an undesirable byproduct or crisis.

While it might not be proactive, it is far more attentive and wise than ignoring and avoiding conflicts or being hyper-aggressive punitive in nature in all levels of disputes. There is a cost for avoidance. And that cost gets higher and more painful the longer negative emotions are allowed to grow in intensity.

A point up for contention for this article is this – this is not work for human resources’ leadership.

Again, why? Many people are already nervous, anxious, afraid of bringing up conflicts, believing they will not be believed, or they will be dismissed or not empathized with and helped. They might trust HR, they might not and the odds are more towards the latter. That’s not an insult, that’s just the reality in conflict situations, especially if there is a power imbalance between the people.

Bringing in an outside mediator or if necessary, having one on staff, separate from HR, is much more likely to lessen doubt and anxiety and improve confidence to pursue problem solving earlier and effectively manage or resolve conflicts before stronger, significant or extreme damage is done, leading to the need for a crisis response, at great expense on multiple levels.

For what relationships will this work well

Research and mediating disputes can work well across almost all relationships. Doctor-doctor, doctor-nurse, nurse-nurse, executives-medical professional, front desk-doctors or nurses, pharmaceutical reps-doctors, nurses or front desk, doctor-patient, nurse-patient and more.

Additional benefits

A smarter, more effective process is put into place, awareness is made within the office, hospital, or center, people are encouraged to pursue it, to feel safe doing so. They dip their figurative toes in the water, see the benefits, tell others and it becomes regular, healthier behavior that brings to light problems earlier so they can be solved, and solved before the tangible and intangible costs (both damaging) begin to snowball, creating larger issues for the team, facility, patients, HR and executive leadership.

How to learn more

Reach out to mediators in your area to have a preliminary discussion, craft a vision, process and implementation plan of action and have the courage to apply it, support it and begin to see the benefits earned and the costs of conflict thinking-and-behavior decreased.

Michael Toebe helps professionals and facilities examine and problem solve conflict-management challenges with the most effective remedy.


Michael Toebe

Michael is a conflict management specialist, serving businesses and individuals in strategically, effectively gaining deeper understanding of conflicts and disputes and working through them more protectively and wisely. MORE >

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