Marie and professionalism expert Jo Shapiro, MD, have a deep conversation about resolving interpersonal conflicts that come up on medical teams and at different levels of health care organizations. Dr. Shapiro, a surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, directs the Center for Professionalism and Peer Support there. She believes that conflict in medical settings is inevitable and may be healthy when it allows for a respectful synthesis of multiple perspectives. Dr. Shapiro helps Marie unpack and process her negative feelings about a colleague who at times comes across as overly demanding. They consider this situation from the perspective of both Marie and her colleague, and they embrace the assumption that all team members are trying to do their best. They discuss providing colleagues with behavioral feedback that is both positive and critical, and how tricky it is when others are not aware of how they come across. A careful approach that is helpful, respectful, and tactful is called for. Such discussions should center on observational data, whenever possible, and antagonism should be avoided. When such attempts to iron out interpersonal complexity do not go well, one should promptly obtain help from those with the skill to ameliorate situations of this kind.
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