How to handle negative client opinions - The Conflict Training Company

Handling negative conflict opinions can be uncomfortable, that’s why having the correct knowledge will help you to deal with these situations. Conflict Management Courses will help you to understand the fundamentals of conflict and how you can get around overcoming them.

To begin with it might be useful to establish what an opinion is (well that is my opinion, you might not agree that this is a good place to start!).

Plato the Greek philosopher distinguished between an opinion and certain knowledge, and this distinction is still a good place to start to establish a working definition of what an opinion is.

The port of Dover is in the south east of the landmass that is England. If you open a map of England you can establish that is the case, without question. I say without question, but I am sure some could construct an argument to say that Dover is not in fact, in the south east.

It is perfectly possible to deny certain knowledge if a person desires to do so. While certain knowledge involves a strong degree of fact, an opinion is concerned with views and preferences and is more subjective. In the news lately there is a lot of information about the possible impact of Brexit at the port of Dover. Enormous disruption, gridlock, and chaos featuring in media articles on the subject.

If you are sitting in a traffic jam it can appear as certain knowledge that you are experiencing enormous disruption, gridlock and chaos. However, the long-distance lorry driver in the vehicle alongside yours may not agree. They might be thinking that the traffic situation is nothing like the enormous disruption, gridlock and chaos, they experienced elsewhere, earlier in the month.

The ‘facts’ of what you are now experiencing are not the ‘facts’ the lorry driver is perceiving. The severity of any travel difficulties can be interpreted and viewed differently depending on the preferences and views of each person.

Any travel difficulties associated with Brexit may be viewed as ‘chaos’ by one person or a natural part of an adjustment to a new way of working by another. Where views and preferences are not subject to certain knowledge, they are opinions.

Remember for an angry client an opinion can feel like certain knowledge. An insurance company will have the details of an insurance policy a client has purchased. If the client is making a claim, the claims agent should not be surprised when an angry client is demanding, with great ‘certainty’, that features that are not in the policy should be there.

The fact is a feature may not be in the policy, but the client’s opinion is it should be there. The client is confusing certain knowledge with their opinion.

Remember from a conflict management point of view the client’s opinion is often a ‘certain’ fact. If you keep that in mind it will help you not to get frustrated when clients are not accepting your facts, which are usually actual facts! Communicate, persuade and negotiate but don’t get even a little bit forceful when clients are presenting opinions as certain knowledge.

For more information please get in touch or take a look at our Conflict Management Courses.

Why not check out our recent blog post all about “How to manage customer conflict.

Thank you for reading.