6 Negotiation Skills for Health Care Professionals

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Using effective interpersonal communication, health care administrators reduce work related stress, promote wellness, and improve quality of life for patients and employees. Because the field of medicine deals with circumstances that can determine life or death, it’s important that administrators learn and train employees in effective negotiation skills. By applying following experience and practical strategies of these six skills, health care administrators can engage others in an emotionally healthy and productive manner that creates a positive influence in the caregiving setting and promotes positive patient outcomes as well as job satisfaction for employees.

The Ability to Solve Problems
When faced with problems, it is natural for individuals to respond with innate, defensive responses. [1] However, these responses often result in short-term fixes and ignore the real cause of the problem. Effective health care administrators learn collaboration skills when faced with challenges. For these leaders, the fact that a long-term solution may take time to develop is a normal part of negotiation.

Administrators who are skilled at problem solving take the time to understand their internal strengths as well as the positive characteristics of their peers. Using this information, health care administrators can group employees into teams that make the most of their problem-solving abilities.

Sincere Empathy
Health care administrators promote teamwork and make the most of available resources. They view health care employees as more than workers and take the time to understand individuals in depth. To learn about employees, health care administrators schedule time to speak with each employee directly, privately, and individually. At times, this can take some effort in a society where many prefer the quick convenience of electronic communication. Additionally, exceptional administrators lead others, but always remember that they are part of a team that must work together in a respectful, productive manner.

Positive Self-Image
It’s important for health care administrators to have a positive self-image that sets the stage to earn respect from others. For example, a health care administrator who frequently uses self-deprecating comments to ease tension for a short time can lose the respect of employees in the long term. Instead, it is better for executives to listen closely to employee grievances and respond with useful, professional answers. It is also important for health care administrators to accept courteous, constructive criticism with an open mind and attempt to look inward to evaluate whether there is an area where improvement is possible and not perceive such occurrences as personal attacks.

The Ability to Establish Boundaries
Health care administrators must know when to grant or deny requests. A single person can only accomplish so many tasks. Because of this, health care administrators must set boundaries. In this regard, it is important for administrators to distinguish between being a team player and allowing employees to take advantage of their generosity. It is equally important that administrators refuse to accept responsibility for duties and tasks that they are not qualified to complete. This applies especially for duties and tasks that are outside the scope of one’s clinical expertise or legal privilege.

Health care administrators must face challenges with civility. [5] Positive, effective leadership can only take place in such an atmosphere. Starting the negotiation process with civility is not a sign of weakness, but a time-tested principle that ethical health care administrators apply to work and life. This makes it easier for administrators to steer disputing parties toward a mutual agreement while helping those parties avoid the natural tendency to assign blame.

It is important for health care administrators to perform conflict assessments, so that they can work towards effective solutions with confidence. Therefore, before health care administrators start negotiations, they take time to consider what their relationship with employees in conflict means. It’s also important for administrators to consider what will happen if the problem is not addressed and how possible outcomes could affect their working relationship with employees. Health care administrators should also consider the probability of reaching a positive conflict outcome and the cost of reaching that conclusion. Finally, administrators should think about how they may have contributed to the problem and what they can do to rectify this part of the issue.

Health care administrators and other medical professionals face increased governmental scrutiny, and as the role of administrators expands, they must take on more responsibility. As the medical field grows more complex, care provider organizations will need talented administrators to oversee operational duties so that physicians and other specialists can focus on healing patients.

Learn More

At Regis, we give you more pathways to pursue your goals in healthcare administration. As a dedicated leader of health administration education, we welcome ambition-driven, self-motivated professionals like you from all health care settings. Gain special insight into areas like management, communications, health informatics, and health policy through our Online Master of Health Administration.

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[1] The Online Journals 0f Issues in Nursing
[2] Reflections on Nursing Leadership