Stephen Hayford

Professor of Business Law

When it comes to resolving conflict, Stephen Hayford treats each case much the same way a doctor approaches an ailing patient. The problem first has to be placed on the table and diagnosed.

“Anytime two people cannot get what they need working alone, they’re in conflict,” says Hayford. “But conflict is not necessarily a bad word. Even though they may be on the same team, and on the same page in terms of the overall mission of the organization or team, the fact is that everyone has a different perspective and a unique set of aspirations. And the conflicts inherent in those differences have to be effectively reconciled.”

After earning his Ph.D. in the mid-1970s, Hayford spent a decade in the classroom teaching labor relations and collective bargaining and working as a labor arbitrator and mediator before heading back to law school. But after serving as law clerk to a federal appeals court judge and practicing law for several years in a large South Florida commercial litigation firm, he made the switch back to higher education.

It is that reality that makes negotiation and conflict resolution essential skills for all contemporary medical professionals. By mastering these straightforward, process-based skills sets physicians can achieve a refreshing new outlook on their profession and devise a highly useful and distinctive approach to engaging conflict that will allow them to devote more of their energy and effort to the real work of their jobs.