The other day I was sat in the pub talking to a friend who was complaining about a customer he had been dealing with at work. The conversation went something like this:
Friend: I had this customer yesterday rang up about….. (I won’t bore you with this bit, it’s not important) …..Anyway, for the third time I said no and this ***** still wouldn’t accept it. Why can’t these people understand the answer is NO????!!!!
Me: I don’t know, what was the reason this time then?
Friend: Uh? How should I know? They just wouldn’t give up. Like a dog with a bone.
Me: But hang on. You were telling me the other day you really value that trait in people.
Friend: What? Being an annoying twit?* (*Not the exact word he used)
Me: No, being someone who doesn’t give in easily, someone who fights their corner and is tenacious. You know, like you.
Friend: Yea, I do. But when I do it, I’m right.
Me: Have you considered that they might be thinking the exact same thing – that they are most definitely right? Otherwise why would they feel so strongly about it and be so insistent about it?
Friend: OK, fair point but even so, I often know they are wrong.
Me: But do they? They may not see it the same as you. They know they are right. And then if they share those qualities that many people, particularly you, admire, such a sense of fairness, a strong belief in doing the right thing, and an attitude that someone that people should stand up for what they believe in and not be fobbed off, they aren’t just going to settle for “No” without good reason.
Friend: Yea, you’re right actually, I’ve been that person many a time, it’s a matter of principle really in those situations.
Me: So, going back to your original question, why can’t these people understand the answer is no?
Friend: Why do I understand but they don’t? I guess because I have a clearer idea about what the real situation is.
Me: So for them to accept the answer needs to be “no”….
Friend: ….I need to find out why. See it from their side.
Me: Exactly, That’s what conflict management is all about, looking at it from the other person’s view point, rather than just making assumptions about their understanding. It will save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
Friend: And the best way to do that is by asking them I guess.
Me: Exactly. You can then explain your reasoning to them in terms that they can agree with because you’ve addressed their points and they will take no for an answer.
Friend: I’ll try to do that then. Cheers for that. That’s useful advice.
Me: That’s alright.
Friend: Ha, sorry mate. We’ve come out for a drink, and I’ve got you giving me a coaching session on conflict management. It’s like being at work for you!
Me: Ha Ha. No probs. It’s been useful for me actually, I might use it my next conflict management blog.
And I did.
I hope you’ve found it food for thought as well.
The Conflict Training Company can help you and your staff get a better handle on all types of conflict. Give us a call on 0845 6585678 for an informal chat.