4 Tips on How to Handle Conflict

Conflict may be easily defined as “a state of not being in agreement with someone or something”. Think of when you have a stomach upset, you are actually not in agreement with that state, and that is conflict. So, we don’t have to look at conflict as some very large issues happening somewhere, but anything, however small, which may cause a disagreement with us. In view of customer service, the conflict that may affect a customer may arise internally or externally i.e. disagreements within an organisation may affect the way an employee handles clients and disagreements arising from the clients themselves may also affect the way an employee handles the clients. Whichever way, we must be aware that the business is the ultimate victim of the conflict if it is not handled well.

1.Understand the cause of the conflict

In view of customer service, it is important to understand what the dispute is all about – is it about the product, processes or the people? The more you understand a disagreement, the more equipped you are to overcome it.

2.Keep a cool head

Conflict can escalate very quickly when emotions get activated, even leading to violence. Keep calm, gather your thoughts, and make sure you keep the conflict non-violent. It is not good to respond to disagreements by yelling obscenities, or losing control of bodily fluids (sweating caused by anger). None of these expressions is ideal — as they only promote further conflict. Only children below 10 can do this so as to attract the attention of adults who get in to resolve the disagreement. Never insult the other person. People tend not to agree with someone who insults them. Avoid belittling, sarcasm, sighs, and eye rolls. Think of yourself as a politician trying to win votes. Do you vote for people who insult your intelligence or attack you personally? If you want to stand a chance of converting someone to your side, they need to respect you. Respect is something that’s earned, and you don’t earn it with personal attacks.

3. Listen, listen, listen
This is one area where emotional intelligence is required. Listening is the key to handling conflict. The only way to get a place to agree is by understanding both sides of the argument. If you’re unwilling to listen to the other person’s side, they’ll be unwilling to listen to yours. It is by listening that we analyse and communicate to the other side. You may think you already know their side but may not know the full story. Even if you do, it’s much easier to hold someone’s hand and walk alongside them to your side of the issue than telling them what they should do. If you want to lead, do it by example.
4 Be willing to compromise (give an offer before making your demand)
Before you can resolve a conflict, you must know what you want to achieve. Is your intention to change someone’s belief about some product/service, process or person? You must answer this question before proceeding. Understand that you can’t win every battle. You’re going to have to give up a little in order to achieve resolution. So, go in with an offer then make your demand. People give back to kindness given to them. You cannot ask something for nothing. Then be ready to cede some ground so that both of you can meet in the middle. Conflicts don’t have to have a loser. Decide what’s most important to you, swallow your pride, and give up the rest so that everyone has a chance to win. When nobody loses but each party feels to have won something at the end of it then the conflict has been handled successfully, and parties are likely to go their way and forget about it. Nobody will ever resurrect the matter again.

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