Maintaining professionalism in a difficult situation is unfortunately something most professionals encounter during their career. Being able to keep calm and stay logical during these times is key to maintaining trust with a client, and helping them feel comfortable and confident to work with you to resolve the issue(s) at hand. For Clinical Research Associates (CRAs), diplomacy and tact are crucial since often they work in stressful situations where subjects’ health and safety are involved. Thus, it is important to understand the general principles that define professionalism and how to gain trust in a working relationship, maintain that trust to power through stressful situations, and “rise above the fray” when tensions are high. This blog will cover each of these aspects and will aim to provide you with the necessary tools to handle conflict and remain professional.
Before we begin, let’s first define “professionalism”, as there can be many interpretations. Some people see and define professionalism as looking nice, doing a good job, and being kind to others. But there are a number of different attributes that identify and define being professional. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as "the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person". This indicates that you must be able to not only control your outer appearance and body language, but your inner self-control and logic. Now that this has been defined, the steps needed to maintain professionalism can be taken.
- Strive for excellence.
- Dress professionally.
- Treat others with respect.
- Listen and communicate.
- Know your material.
- Represent yourself and your company in a positive light.
- Remember that you are a guest in someone else’s “home.”
- Leave your ego at the door.
- Be aware of yours and other individual’s body language. This can provide a better, more targeted approach, specific to interact and treat this individual’s feelings appropriately.
- Build a reputation.
- Be honest and consistent.
- Be polite.
- Have consistent and positive behavior.
- Consider and communicate that both parties have the same end goal.
- Reassure them that if they have questions they can come to you.
- If they have a question, start with “I understand and I am happy to answer this for you.”
- Reassure them that you are a team player to accomplish the same end goals.
- Say thank you.
- Stay calm.
- Don’t be too serious.
- Use soft entry “I appreciate all of your hard work you have done on this trial. I need to provide some feedback that is a little difficult to share.”
- Say they have done a good job.
- Ask if you can provide feedback or thoughts “may I please suggest a solution?”
- Don’t play the blame game.
- Share credit for accomplishments, ideas, and contributions.
- Thank them for their time and expertise.
Overcoming Your Thoughts
- Understand that many people are uncomfortable when it comes to confrontation.
- Don’t take things personal.
- Have a thick skin.
- The best feedback is straightforward and simple.
- Embrace the chaos.
The above lists are only a few great attributes of a good monitorand have been generalized and can be altered to incorporate other examples of what works for YOU. It is important while keeping these suggestions in mind that not all of the above may work. You can prepare yourself, but be ready to adapt to the working relationship that is ever evolving.