Thinking about your role as a leader or future leader in health care and considering your personal experiences with a supervisor or manager, consider the following: •What issues or shortcuts are the most difficult to address with a colleague? •What are some professional ways to communicate difficult topics such as tardiness, medication errors, or incivility? •What makes people defensive about feedback? •What steps would you take to improve communication with somebody you supervise to reduce challenges and defensiveness?

As a leader or future leader in the field of healthcare, it is important to consider how to effectively address difficult issues or shortcuts with colleagues, as well as effectively communicate on sensitive topics such as tardiness, medication errors, or incivility. Additionally, understanding why individuals may become defensive about feedback is crucial to improving communication and reducing challenges and defensiveness within a team.

One of the most difficult issues to address with a colleague in any professional setting is addressing poor performance or misconduct. In the healthcare industry, this may include situations such as medication errors or incidents of incivility towards patients or colleagues. These issues can be particularly challenging to address due to the potential impact on patient care, the potential for legal ramifications, and the potential damage to professional and personal relationships.

To communicate difficult topics professionally, it is important to approach the conversation with empathy, respect, and a focus on collaboration. Instead of blaming or accusing the colleague, it is more productive to focus on the behavior or incident itself and its impact on patient care or the overall work environment.

One effective approach is to use the “S-B-I” (Situation-Behavior-Impact) model. This involves describing the specific situation or incident, discussing the behavior observed, and then explaining the impact of that behavior on the team, patients, or overall performance. This approach helps to keep the conversation objective and focuses on the consequences rather than personal attacks.

Another important aspect of professional communication is active listening. It is essential to provide an opportunity for the colleague to express their perspective and feelings about the situation. This can help to foster a sense of understanding and empathy and may uncover underlying issues or challenges that need to be addressed.

When addressing specific issues such as tardiness or medication errors, it is important to focus on the impact of these behaviors rather than personalizing them. This can be achieved by discussing specific incidents rather than making generalizations or assumptions about the individual’s character or intentions. For example, instead of saying “you are always late,” it is more effective to say “I noticed that you were late on three separate occasions last week, and it caused delays in patient care.”

Understanding why people become defensive about feedback is essential in improving communication and reducing challenges. People often become defensive when they perceive feedback as an attack on their character or competence. Additionally, individuals may become defensive if they feel that the feedback is unfair or unjust. Fear of consequences, such as disciplinary action or damage to their professional reputation, can also contribute to defensiveness.

To reduce defensiveness, it is important to create an environment where feedback is seen as an opportunity for growth and development rather than a source of criticism or punishment. This can be achieved by emphasizing the importance of continuous learning and improvement within the team. Providing constructive feedback in a private and supportive manner can also help to reduce defensiveness.

To improve communication with someone you supervise and reduce challenges and defensiveness, there are several steps that can be taken. Firstly, it is important to establish open lines of communication by creating a supportive and non-judgmental environment. Encourage open dialogue and active listening, and be approachable and available for discussions.

Regularly scheduled meetings or check-ins can help to foster ongoing communication. During these meetings, it is important to provide feedback and address any issues or concerns promptly. This can help prevent small issues from escalating into larger problems and can help ensure that expectations are clear.

In addition to regular communication, it is important to provide opportunities for professional development and ongoing training. This can help to address any knowledge or skill gaps and can promote a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Overall, effective communication and addressing difficult topics in a professional manner are crucial for leaders and future leaders in healthcare. By utilizing strategies such as the S-B-I model, active listening, and creating a supportive environment, leaders can improve communication and reduce challenges and defensiveness within their teams.