Let’s be honest: sometimes, people just clash. Sometimes it takes the tiniest spark to turn amicable, rational folks against each other in a heated argument. The workplace is no different. Whether ‘s between coworkers, between employees and their management, or with an irate caller/customer/client, people are bound to reach an impasse with each other. ‘s inevitable.
But what we CAN control is how we deal with it. Conflict is a natural part of life, but ‘s our ability to recognize and overcome it that truly sets us apart. And in a customer service environment, that ability is crucial. Here are some tips we like to share amongst ourselves to better handle those types of situations.
Please note, while this may be similar to our previous entry on assisting irate callers, this little essay is geared more towards face-to-face conflicts, usually with our coworkers.
Be prepared. Set aside an appropriate time and place to tackle the issue, and gather all the facts beforehand. An impromptu, confused argument in front of everyone is not a show anyone wants to see (note: pro wrestling organizers, please disregard this advice.)
Keep an open mind. While they’re talking, listen. Don’t just prepare your rebuttal. Listen to what they’re saying and try to empathize with them. Most people don’t get upset with valid reasons.
Stay calm. If things get heated, maintain a cool, collected demeanor. Shouting matches only escalate, they never deflate. Taking things personally only skews your thinking process. When the other party sees that you’re staying calm and rational, they’re bound to follow suit. Body language and tone of voice are key here.
Don’t intimidate… Threats, bullying, playing the blame game. Nobody likes this, and ‘s certainly not going to foster good workplace relationships. There’s no quicker way to demoralize someone than to make them feel inferior. While being firm and authoritative is good, never forget that your coworkers are you equals, and more importantly, your teammates and your friends.
…or be intimidated. Likewise, don’t feel that you have to be subjected to that kind of treatment either. Letting someone vent is one thing, but treatment that borders on harassment is unacceptable, and if they can’t understand that, you may want to look for help or mediation from a superior.
Compromise. Nobody can win them all. By the end of the conversation, look for a solution that leaves everyone as satisfied as possible, and take time to make sense of what can be done and what may need to be re-examined. As with before, if there’s an obstacle that neither party can overcome, don’t be afraid to look for outside help.
After you’re done, let it out! Leave on good terms. Shake hands, apologize if necessary and commit to each other that you’ll do your best to work things out in the future. Don’t hold a grudge. In fact, use this opportunity to strengthen the relationship more than it ever was before. And after you’ve clocked out, go vent to a friend, have a tasty snack, listen to some music or play with a cute animal. After all, tomorrow’s a new day, with new opportunities, new challenges, and perhaps new conflicts to test your spiffy new resolution techniques on!