by Niki Tudge
Why is it that so many people have a negative conditioned emotional response to the word conflict? Why do we always assume that conflict is negative and unpleasant, a creator of all evil? This is simply not true. As human beings we are all individuals and it is when our differences come to the surface that conflicts can arise. I challenge you to switch paradigms and start thinking of conflict simply as a difference in how we approach and feel about things. If you can do that then you are off to a great start in being able to generate positive outcomes, rather than believing that conflict is adversarial and aggressive. This should make managing conflict a much more pleasant endeavor when you have to sort out any differences with your clients. The fact that conflict exists is not a bad thing as long as we resolve it effectively. Conflict that is managed properly can lead to enhanced personal and professional growth.
How do we define conflict? The Random House Dictionary defines it thus: “To come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, at variance, or in opposition; clash.” Some examples of workplace conflict may be:
- When a client is dissatisfied with your services or product.
- If an employee is upset with his manager when she changes his schedule at the last minute.
- A difference of opinions between you and a client regarding training methods.
- A dispute between you and a colleague regarding a training process or principle
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- Stephen Covey
Think about all the wonderful relationships you can forge, business partnerships you can enhance and situations with your clients you can resolve if you handle conflict effectively. In our industry, having a grasp of conflict resolution is a must, particularly when you consider how emotionally charged some of the situations we find ourselves in can become. Let us instead view conflict as an opportunity to generate positive, collaborative solutions with our clients, partners and business associates. Once you have adopted the appropriate attitude towards conflict and, if you then arm yourself with a conflict resolution process, you will have all the necessary tools to understand any differences with clients. You can then use this understanding to interact with them in a more productive manner. Think about how much you can enhance the lives of family pets if you are better equipped to collaborate with their owners.
You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.
- Indira Gandhi
How can these conflicts also be healthy? Think about how conflict can increase motivation and competitiveness. These types of drivers can result in greater success, whether this is a better process, better teamwork or greater satisfaction. Remember that everyone experiences conflict at some point in their lives. You cannot avoid it so learning to deal with it is extremely important.
Let us look at this in greater detail. In the first bullet point above we have a disenchanted client. When clients are happy or neutral about your services, how often do you actually get the opportunity to spend quality time talking and listening to them? Most satisfied clients interface with their trainers at the delivery of the service and then go on their merry way. When clients complain about one of your products or services, however, it presents the ideal opportunity to spend real quality time with them. If you handle this conflict professionally you will forge a strong, long-lasting and trusting relationship. Client dissatisfaction can be turned around. In many cases, clients who have had complaints handled successfully can become your very best salespersons.
Next time we will talk about a recommended conflict resolution process. Subscribe to our blog to get new blogs directly in your inbox. alternatively you can purchase our book that covers this topic and so many others. Click here