While conflict happens as part of the human condition, both inside ourselves and within groups, why do teams devoted to serving others physical (and emotional) too often find themselves witnessing or participating themselves in sub-optimal to dysfunctional thinking, attitudes, beliefs and actions?
Self awareness of our thinking is one reason. We simply don't recognize it is us (and other people don't realize it's them) whom is becoming more focused on our negative emotions than ethical, respectful, courteous, effective problem solving.
A second reason is while most of us are convinced we are skilled problem solvers with sufficient to a wide variety of conflict management and resolution skills, the reality is most of us don't have nor exhibit them. Authority and power are not skills. Too many people, not just leaders, have that false assumption.
A third reason is many practices lack a structure, a framework, one that is consistent in thought and practice that is receptive to, not aggravated by hearing of emerging, escalating or full-blown disputes and then fully engaged, focused, showing high-level self control, empathy and poise, in applying healthy (for the practice, collective and each individual), ethical, sensitive conflict management (and resolution) responses and solutions.
Next, old habits die hard, if ever. All of us have default thinking and behavioral responses. If they are unprofessional, unethical, insensitive, aggressive or passive-aggressive then they will continue to be such until we want to learn or are forced to learn how to replace old, dysfunctional thinking, actions and problem-solving approaches.
Dirty secret - people are not always hired for or promoted for their competence and expertise in emotional self control and thus their behavior. They can often be hired for or promoted despite significant or dangerous lack of or under-development in such critical workplace skills.
Individuals, practices and hospitals are not recognizing the scope of the problem and how team relationship dissatisfaction and dysfunction are an attitude, work fulfillment and high-dollar expense.
Complaints get filed yet rarely and only when it becomes the last resort of a staff member. That means most misery is endured in either silence or relative quiet, enabling and often escalating the conflict or dispute, further souring the relationship and team culture. That then bleeds and is noticed by patients and other visitors to the practice.
What can be done to best respond to this more-commonplace-than-you-think practice problem?
Choose to check the "temperature" of the workplace culture and then individual relationships on a regular basis. Proactively teach healthy problem solving in short segments. Promptly address emerging, escalating or extreme conflicts and disputes with a dedicated specialist. Learn from each conflict, dispute relationship, conflict management success or resolution achievement.
Keep detailed records to learn from and refer back to when needed.
Conduct periodic confidential (if possible) interviews. Create an atmosphere of unquestioned safety and receptiveness for communication.
Never assume the workplace culture and staff relationships are "fine" or "good enough." That enables behavior that causes pain to staff , increases negativity and decreases team chemistry and excellence.