Monday, July 29, 2013

How Do You Handle Conflict?

My first gut reaction when something goes terribly wrong is to hide out...

Or even worse... strike out. 

I often times wish I could just stow away in a bag, uproot myself from this crazy life, and just start anew else where. But that's not entirely practical. (Though if I ever announce I joined the Peace Corps.... )

In the past I would even go as so far as to rip your head off (figuratively speaking of course.) I had a nasty reputation as having a tongue of a viper, and I am sure that's why many of my closest friends still tread lightly around me when they KNOW I am about to flip my lid. Rest assure, my dearest friends, those days are over.

What I do now.. and what I have learned to do over the past two years is simple- Let go. Become vulnerable. Just experience the uncomfortableness of whatever horrible thing I am going through, attempt to see it as it really is and the motivation behind it, and finally.. at some point.. just forgive. (That last part is a doozy.)

What is so frustrating for me now is that since I took on this whole new approach, I am subjected to other people's outbursts and loss of control. I watched it time and time again with my ex. I watch my family members go through it to this day. I've seen co-workers do it. I've seen random people in the public do it... and folks, it is not attractive. 

I recently watched as this woman berated a cashier at a Payless Shoe Source about whether or not she should receive full price for her returned item. Now, at first glance you would think yes, but as I was standing in line listening, I got all of the facts. For one, the woman did not have a receipt and they were not in the original box, instead, she brought them in a Wal-Mart plastic bag. Second - Payless's policy is that without a receipt, you give the current sale price on the shoes, and yes, you guessed it - Her shoes were currently on sale. 

Sounds fairly straight forward? Nope. She went on and on and on, then she wanted to speak to a manager. The manager comes out and tries to handle the complaint. She confirms the policy and offers another option - an exchange/store credit for the full price. The lady did not want it, therefore the woman asked for the corporate office's number.

At this point I would have rolled my eyes, because we all know that calling a corporate office is not going to do a whole lot of anything, but I understand that some people believe that their little complaint will force some "suit" to arrive and fire the entire staff. *ha* 

But I chose not to roll my eyes. Why? Her daughter, probably 8 or 9 years old, was standing there watching the entire thing. Here was this child, watching the closest thing to an all-knowing being in her life, and processing everything her poorly behaved mother was doing. At one point, the irate customer even looked back at me, as if I would give her support; I just calmly and stoically looked back at her - no smile, no glare, just a look. Finally the lady leaves and I have no recollection of how it ended, because I began trying to distract none other than my 7 year old niece, who was also a witness to this behavior. 

In my humble opinion we all need to practice a little more compassion, a little more patience, and a little more healthy conversation. When you run and hide (being non confrontational,) you are sending a strong passive aggressive signal. When you berate and attack (being confrontational) you send an overly aggressive signal. How can we strike a balance between the two?

In my experience, I would suggest these 5 tips:

1. Try to take a breath. Just pause before you say or do a thing.
2. Attempt to understand the position the other person is in. See if you can see the motivation behind the issues.
3. Talk about. Express your feelings calmly and say things like, "When you do this, I feel like this." Never say YOU make me feel or YOU always. Take responsibility for your reaction.
4. Apologize for the wrong you may have contributed.
5. Forget and Forgive.

If nothing else, I am handling issues a little bit better these days. 

Though warning - I can go from sweet/nice Nicole to cold hearted bitch in less than 5 minutes.

But what's the point?

1 comment:

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