It’s Scale Free

Thank you for so many responses to the 2 questions I posed last week. First, the longest someone said their organisation had put off a difficult discussion for was 6 years. Secondly, the highest figure I received on potential costs of conflict was £5.4m.

One of the misnomers about conflict is that it affects some people more than others. I have not found this to be true. No one is immune. Conflict can affect you irrespective of your seniority or profession. I refer to it as being ’scale free’.

Some time ago I mediated a dispute between a GP and Primary Care Trust. I have only ever encountered about 4 situations where the parties refused to meet in the same room. This was one of them.

A paragraph in the notes that were sent to help me prepare for the case said ‘Further more the defendant has incurred legal expenses, accountants fees, costs for employing criminal lawyers, time spent meeting with the BMA lawyers, time spent researching, writing letters, photocopying letters, sleepless nights, precious time lost, stress, worry, psychosomatic symptoms such as headache, migraine, depression, suicidal thoughts, weight loss due to loss of appetite, strained relationship with family, sleep deprivation, loss of earnings, total waste of precious time and energy’.

The irony of this case for me was how ill the GP was as a result of the dispute. Every time I went to her room, her lawyer apologised for her absence. She was making frequent trips to the lavatory. I’ll refrain from providing any more detail on this aspect. The fact that it was a GP whose health had suffered so visibly and so badly is a memory that has stuck with me nearly three years on. In your organisation it might not be a medical professional, but maybe an executive. Senior people often find it easy to sign up to the ‘Yes, but not today’ group for fear of stepping into the unknown. So, if you have had thoughts that for some, conflict isn’t an issue, think again. They might hide it, but just as you and I are affected, they are too.

Have a good week.