You don’t have to be a manager to run into circumstances that make you want to claw your hair out. Managing conflicts in the retail market space is like pouring a cold cup of water in a glass during the summertime. What I’m trying to get at folks, is that you’re going to have to learn how to deal with the emotions of your staff, your customers, and your family, and most importantly yourself.
First, I would like to come clean… I can be the worse at dealing with conflict. I’ve yelled and kicked many garbage cans.
Any person that is passionate about their craft strives for excellence; and if excellence is not achieved there will be frustration.
Before we get into managing conflict…Let’s consider the following:
- On a scale of 1 to 5; how do you manage stress?
- Who do you talk to about your stress?
- What is your outlet for your stress?
- When was your last vacation from your work?
- Do you actively take time to de-stress during your workday?
- Have you considered quitting your job due to stress?
- How often do you raise your voice in a day, a week, a month?
- How is your family life; do you spend enough time with friends and family?
- How is your sleep? Have you been getting enough rest?
I bring up those questions to lead into how conflict arises. Conflicts arise with much more earnest and ease in times of stress and exhaustion. To ensure you’re at your best; make sure you at least attempt to take care of your daily needs. Eat lunch at an appropriate time, step away for a 15 minute break to clear your mind, or take a brief walk to get away from the office.
Back to conflict! Haha…
When facing conflict with customers, employees, peers, or even family— the first thing you should do is pause. The second step should be to gather your thoughts. The third step should be to listen before speaking. Pause, gather, listen.
What does it mean to pause you ask? The pause should be intentional. It helps you to refocus your energy into not speaking. Oftentimes I’ve found that immediately speaking, only pours fuel on a “gasoline conflict”.
Gather… To gather means to collect your emotions, your feelings, your worries, your fears, your anxieties. Conflict is an adrenaline rush. Having someone out the blue, just begin yelling or cursing can be a shock to your nervous system. Thus, gather yourself and consider why you’re standing presently in conflict. The pause allows you to actively choose to gather your thoughts and emotions.
Lastly, listen with intent. Your mind will without a doubt be racing toward the hills. This person did me wrong. This person is not right. This person is crazy. Be an active listener in the process towards solving the underlying issues of both your customers and staff. I’ve found that 9 times out of 10 a customer or staff member just needed a moment to be heard. It’s easy to underestimate the value of listening. It’s very easy to want to solve a problem; oftentimes the problems are simple problems that can be solved in 30 minutes or by the end of the business day. The big problems that can lead to conflict often are the problems that have been festering for months.
Conflict is around the corner. But…
- Reflect and honestly evaluate your personal stressors
Next, when presented with conflict:
- Pause and breathe
- Gather your thoughts and emotions
- Listen with the intent to understand