You Can be Friendly and Professional at the Same Time

By: Belle DuCharme, Director of CE/Training

There is an old saying “Don’t mix business with pleasure” because of the necessity to remain objective in making decisions affecting practice success.

The honest sharing of thoughts, feelings, and experiences at work can be conflict in the making. Despite its potential benefits, self-disclosure can backfire if it’s hastily delivered, poorly timed, or not in sync with the cultural and organizational mission and vision of the practice. It can create gossip, thus hurting your reputation, alienating co-workers and patients, fostering distrust, and derailing the team’s focus. Many employers confuse team building with the thought that we need to all be equal and good friends or even family. This familiarity is difficult to understand for people who want a professional relationship.

With awareness, you can be friendly and professional at the same time, while focusing on team goals. You may like speaking your mind, but others might not like to hear it. Most workers have a tough time receiving negative feedback, especially when it’s from someone they know, like and have perceived a “friendship”. To ease the situation, try implementing a feedback PNP. Start on a Positive note (“It is great when you are here on time for the meeting”), continue with the potentially Negative feedback (“It is important that you participate in the meeting by having the numbers ready”), and then end on another Positive note (“We can then get done with the meeting and go to lunch on time”). Here are some positive approaches to being yourself and a member of a team:

  1. Observe how others are working. If your employer doesn’t look at her/his email every day, email is probably not the best way to communicate. Figure out how your teammates and managers enjoy working and try your best not to interrupt their productivity flow. Just because you have time between patients doesn’t mean it is a good time to discuss vacation dates with the Office Manager. Your manager may prefer you send an email or text to set up a time to talk. Bending to other people’s processes will position you as a team player, not to mention making it easier for your ideas to be heard.
  2. Recognize and prioritize conflict resolution. There is a cost every time you engage in a workplace conflict. Schedules unravel, chaos ensues, morale declines. Decide what your priorities are and let go of the emotional baggage, even if you know you’re right. The key is to know when you should push an idea and when you shouldn’t. High achievers know success is less about being right, and more about contributing to a shared vision. Preserving relationships is a cornerstone to teamwork.
  3. Acknowledge that you are part of a team. While the workplace can and should have multiple personalities and opinions, it’s easy to forget that everyone is working toward the same objective. The Scheduling Coordinator may not complete a task in the same way you would, but that’s no reason to be divisive. You’re all on the same team, working toward the same goal, and strong opinions can be a sign that someone sees a potential problem that should be acknowledged.
  4. Don’t be a know it all, respect others expertise. Most people just want to be heard and validated. Respect and acknowledge that your co-workers have an expertise that you don’t. Understand not only that you don’t know it all, but you can’t do it all. You’ll find it’s much more enjoyable to interact with your co-workers and get things done. Try not to undermine people’s authority or challenge their knowledge and instead, ask for their input, feedback, and advice when something comes up in their realm of expertise. They’ll appreciate being consulted, and you’ll learn something new.


eAssist Helpful News and Billing Tips; Edition #111


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