Working With an Angry Colleague

As a pharmacist, it is almost certain you have had to deal with upset physicians, customers, and colleagues. It goes with the territory. If such a conflict arises, what is the best way to deal with it? Here are a few tips.

Stay calm

When a situation gets heated, it is easy to let emotions get the better of us and simply lash out. This is the worst thing to do. It will accomplish nothing because it will simply inflame the other person.

Keep in mind the kinds of stresses people are under and what they are dealing with. Although not universal attributes, physicians are used to being in control and making decisions; more prone to an authoritarian mindset. Some people usually have a more stoic attitude in their approach to problems. They are under a lot of stress and frustration in dealing with the administrative demands of the job.

Establish common ground

When approaching someone in a confrontational situation, it may be best to establish some common ground, such as acknowledging the stress everyone is under, questioning why the person acted the way they did, or by telling them you would like to discuss the issue.

Before talking with the person, it may also be helpful to clarify your position in your own mind. What exactly has upset you, and what are you looking for in your conversation? Be able to clearly articulate what is bothering you.

The important thing, again, is to try to keep emotion out of the engagement, to focus on a reasoned, rational approach, which starts with listening to the other person’s concerns. In listening, you are sincerely trying to understand the other person’s position, to get at the heart of the disagreement, not looking for arguments to refute.

If you both work at the same healthcare organization, find out if there are any workplace policies in place for handling employee conflicts.

Get help

If a face-to-face meeting has failed to resolve the situation, it may be necessary to get some help. If you are both at the same location, you can talk to human resources or go to your supervisor. This action should only be taken after talking one-on-one with the person.

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