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Multiple balances in workplace dialogue: experiences of an intervention in health care

Christina Grill (Public Health and Community Medicine, Institute of Medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Gunnar Ahlborg Jr (Public Health and Community Medicine, Institute of Medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Ewa Wikström (School of Business, Economics and Law, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Eva-Carin Lindgren (Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science, Faculty of Education, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Publication date: 11 May 2015

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to illuminate and analyse the participants’ experiences of the influences of a dialogue intervention. Cooperation and coordination in health care require planning of dialogically oriented communication to prevent stress and ill health and to promote health, well-being, learning and efficiency in the organisation.

Design/methodology/approach

An intervention method based on dialogue theory, with Socratic provocations and concrete workplace examples enhanced authenticity of conversations. A qualitative study, using qualitative content analysis, entailed interviews with 24 nurses, assistant nurses and paramedics, strategically selected from 156 intervention participants.

Findings

Two themes emerged, dialogue-learning processes and dialogue-promoting communicative actions. The first includes risk-taking to overcome resistance and fear of dialogue, expressing openly thoughts and feelings on concrete issues and taboo subjects, listening to and reflecting on one’s own and others’ perspectives and problematising norms and values. The second comprises voicing opinions, and regarding one’s own limits; requesting support and room for manoeuvre; and restraining negative emotions and comments in the interest of well-being. Findings depict strengthened awareness and readiness regarding dialogue and multiple balancing of dialogue at work.

Research limitations/implications

This study implies further observing and examining of communicative patterns during workplace dialogue.

Practical implications

A useful approach to communication development for occupational health and personnel in health care and other workplace contexts.

Originality/value

Previously, arenas have been created for dialogue, but close-process studies of dialogue in health-care work are scarce. This study provides insights into how workplace communication can develop towards dialogue.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to AFA Insurance (main funder, grant no. 070082), Region Västra Götaland and the Board of Directors of the Institute of Stress Medicine for financial support and to all health-care workers who participated.

Citation

Grill, C., Ahlborg Jr, G., Wikström, E. and Lindgren, E.-C. (2015), "Multiple balances in workplace dialogue: experiences of an intervention in health care", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 267-281. https://doi.org/10.1108/JWL-07-2013-0047

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited