Issue Resolution

From time to time, issues arise between members of any team which require resolution in order for the team to continue to function at its highest level.   Following are six points to remember for positive and successful issue resolutions:

  1. Turn your complaints into requests.
  2. Change “you” statements to “I” or “we/us” statements. 
  3. Never go backwards!  Focus on the future only.
  4. Offer a solution or new idea.
  5. Avoid making demands.  Ask for someone’s help in solving the issue in a mutually beneficial way. 
  6. Avoid generalizations like “you always” or “you never.”

Notice how different these two examples sound and feel.  See how easy it is to utilize and incorporate all six of the techniques above in just a few sentences:

Complaint:  You never clean your instruments before you leave for the day.  You got off on time but I had to stay late every day last week to finish them.”

iStock_000016448181XSmall - Dental TeamRequest:  “Cheryl, I’d like to ask for your help.  Could we sit down together one day this week – say, Wednesday at noon – and develop a system to make sure all the instruments are cleaned and properly put away at the end of every day?  I have some great ideas about it and wanted to ask for your help in developing a system that would work for both of us.


  • Avoid a sarcastic or condescending tone when making your request.
  • Most people are reasonable and want to work out differences just like you.  Expect to work it out.
  • Be respectful that “right now” may not be a good time for the other person involved.  Ask permission to discuss it now or to pick a good time (be specific) in the near future.
  • Listen and smile!  Recognize every human’s greatest need is to just be heard and understood.  Seek first to understand and then to be understood.  And a soft smile can powerfully communicate optimism and kind intent.


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