Category Archives: conflict

Conflict Management Training – Managing conflict by avoiding ‘absolutes’

Managing conflict by avoiding ‘absolutes’

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Recently, as I was queuing in a branch of a major supermarket chain, I overheard the following conversation between a customer and the checkout assistant.

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Customer: (handing over her car park ticket for a refund) “Please may I have a refund on that?”

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Assistant: “You need the other part of the ticket”

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Customer: “But this one has the price on it”

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Assistant: “You still need the other part of the ticket”

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Customer: “Why? This one has the price on it”

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Assistant: “I cannot refund on that part, I still need the other part of the ticket”

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Customer: (walking away) “That’s crap, you’re no help, are you?”

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Assistant: (turning to the rest of us) “You cannot please everyone”

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The checkout assistant made a correct factual statement (the person did have the wrong part of the ticket – there was no doubt about that). From that point of view the case is closed. However, from a conflict management perspective the interaction was oh so very wrong…

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‘Absolute’ or ‘final’ sounding statements can be interpreted in many ways by the customer but most are likely to lead to a negative reaction. ‘Absolute’ statements convey the impression of not being willing to budge, to listen, to compromise or to see the customer’s point of view. They should be avoided, particularly early in the conversation before any rapport has had a chance to develop, when the customer is hostile or when the issue is very contentious. If there is no time for rapport building, ‘absolute’ statements can lead to an immediate standoff:

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“I want it”
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This position can lead to aggression and sometimes danger.

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Okay, smart a??, I hear you say, how do I avoid taking an ‘absolute’ position when time is extremely short, and I still have to say ‘No’ to the customer?

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– Ask questions: ‘Where is the other part of the ticket?’ Questions lead to answers and answers provide information which can be used to build rapport. They also convey to the customer that you are interested in them and their problem.
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rn- Provide options for the customer: ‘If you could go and get the other part of the ticket I could…’. Creative options encourage the customer to think rather than react.
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rn- Show empathy: If provided genuinely, empathy goes a long way. ‘I know it’s a real pain having to get the ticket when you’re busy’.
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rn- Watch your timing: As with comedy, timing is everything. If a customer is angry and you say; ‘I know it’s a real pain having to get your ticket when you’re busy BUT that’s the policy’. The customer will only ‘register’ the second section of your sentence. Break the sentence into two parts to ensure the customer actually hears and ‘registers’ your empathy.
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rn- Don’t make it personal: Avoid the ‘YOU’ word if possible. Rather than ‘you need the other part of the ticket’, use phrases such as ‘the blue part of the ticket is needed to…’.

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Rapport can be built in a few sentences but rarely in ‘one’ absolute sentence. Be flexible, creative, say ‘No’, if you must, but avoid ‘absolute’ statements that back a customer into a corner.

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The Conflict Training Company provides a range of on-site conflict management training courses. As part of the content on most of the course you will find out more about how to avoid ‘absolutes’. Please contact us to find out how we can tailor any course to your exact requirements.

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Write a children’s book – 5 Tips you NEED to know!

Are you in the progress of writing a children’s book? Have you thought about writing a nice little story that children and their caregivers would like to read? There is defiantly a need for more well written children’s books. Write a children’s book, you never know what might happen if you do!

Writing for children is a fun and creative and the stories you can write can be filled with excitement and imagination. Once you know what you’re doing; you could be asked to write books faster than you can come up with the ideas. Wouldn’t that be nice. You could be busy for quite awhile or choose to write whenever you want!

Before you start or if you already have, have a look at the following 5 best-kept secrets that you need to know when you write a children’s book! These guidelines will help you to make sure your children’s book is as great as it can be!

1. Research

Do your research. Research what you’re writing about. If your story idea is based on something you’re not exactly sure about or the story is unclear to you, your readers will probably pick up on this. When you write a children’s book ensure you do your research so your writing is clear and valuable to the reader. It is important to do your research so you’re knowledge of the situation is credible for the reader. The worst thing is leaving your reader thinking “What if….Be precise and straight to the point. Don’t ramble into too much detail; again, you will lose the interest of the reader.

2. Characters.

Have you made the big mistake a lot of writers of children’s books are making? Many beginner writers develop a wonderful story that they believe everyone will fall in love with then they try to fit the characters around this storyline. This can see you in a wee bit of trouble down the line. The best way to create realistic characters your readers will connect with and care about is to develop them first! Get to know everything about the characters you create. Know their physical characteristics, their personality traits, their background and emotions. The more you know about them the better off your story will be! This will show your readers you have passion toward them and will project through your writing. Therefore, your audience will want to find out what happens to them.

3. Mood of the story.

As most of us writers know, you rarely sit down and write a book cover to cover in one sitting right! Unless you don’t fancy sleeping, then you are the minority. The rest of us will write in sections or little bits here and there. Attempt to write when you are in the same mood you were in when you were last writing. Otherwise, you might have a situation where the readers emotions are up and down throughout the story. This can be quite upsetting for a young child. Another reason could be when the beginning is fulled of excitement, the middle is dull and the best is saved till last. You’ll probably end up with an uncomfortable read for your audience. Try to divide the drama throughout the story and keep the tone and mood steady. You don’t want to lose the reader before they get to the best part of the story.

4. The Plot

When you write a children’s book, as it is with all books, the plot is another important aspect to consider. Especially when writing for children. Children are more likely to look to the characters as role models. Therefore, when you are creating the plot for your children’s book, you need to keep your audience in mind. All great books have one thing in common, weather it’s for children or adults.It’s plot will have some sort of conflict! There are two types of conflict, internal and external. Internal conflict is when the main character has to deal with a conflict from within. For example, fear, insecurities or a struggle of right and wrong. External conflict is when the main character has a conflict to deal with outside of their control. For example other people, animals, or a situation where they have no control. Add some sort of conflict to the characters journey and you have a great story!

5. “show, don’t tell”

Have you heard about “show, don’t tell”? All modern day writers are now using the “show, don’t tell” way of writing. You can defiantly learn how to write in this style, and I strongly recommend that you do. But “show, don’t tell” is where you become a ‘storyshower’ and not a storyteller. What I am trying to explain here is, that even though writers are telling the story, you want to show your readers what is happening so they can create a picture in their mind. This can be done through description. Show your reader how the character is feeling, their actions, their physical reactions and body language, where they are in the story, etc. Add des

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