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By: Erik Burns

burns-headshotConflict is inevitable and has been around since the dawn of time. If you think about the past week, you can probably recall a number of disagreements with those close to you. The same can be said for the workplace. According the BLS, the average employed American between the ages 25 to 54 spends an average of 8.9 hours per day working or in other related activities. This is a significant amount of our time and effort spent at work, and we need to make that time as productive and healthy as possible. Conflict in the workplace can take up a great deal of our energy resulting in lost productivity/revenue, illness, turnover, and a slew of other issues you just don’t want to deal with.

Many American workers may feel that conflict does not impact them at work and that they “love” their job, or that this “never” happens to them. While this MAY be true for some, the vast majority are dealing with uncomfortable conversations and situations, specifically those in roles of leadership and management. According to a 2011 Accountemps survey, managers said they spend, on average, 18 percent of their time intervening in employee disputes; this translates to more than seven hours a week or nine weeks per year.

As a scientist, there is no doubt this time could be better spent in the lab, conducting research, or having innovative discussions. What if I told you that you could better manage these conflicts through a formula and process that enables PRODUCTIVE communication during these uncomfortable interactions with conflicting staff?

The Process:

Step 1: The first step in having a difficult conversation with somebody else starts with a conversation with you. Yes, that’s correct. You need to talk to you! Remember, when working through conflict, the only person you can control is yourself.

Step 2: Clearly state your intent and stick to the facts as you see them.

Step 3: What is the ideal outcome?

Step 4: Follow through/follow-up

Step 5: Practice!

To learn more about the details of each of these steps and to practice these strategies, join us at the 2016 AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition for the session.

Erik Burns is the Chair of the Division of Pharmacy Professional Development, as well as the Assistant Dean of Outreach and Professional Development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy. Erik hold a Master of Arts (MA) with a concentration in Organization Development, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Change Management, and a Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) with a focus on Higher Administration, Leadership and Policy.