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Friday, June 14, 2024
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ArticlesUp Front 1/16

Up Front 1/16

We’re not short of advice on conflict resolution these days. It’s something the corporate world has spent a lot of time on. People in large companies often deal with rivalry, resentment, jealousy and of course the fall-out from blind ambition. There are dozens of websites as well as magazine and newspaper articles offering advice like ‘Become mindful of your non-verbal communication’, ‘Be open and flexible’ and ‘View conflict as opportunity’. It’s a difficult and no doubt stressful job, and with conflict resulting from a wide range of issues, it’s not surprising there is so much advice out there. At this time of year staff in complaints departments are bracing themselves for the rush of irate customers whose children gave them hell over Christmas because a special gift either didn’t turn up or didn’t work. The most common and most obvious advice employees are given is to remain calm. ‘Listen carefully to what the customer has to say, and let them finish’ is a one useful piece of advice, as is ‘Put your emotions aside.’ My father used to tell me that the customer was always right. These days customers take to the internet to make their complaints and online shoppers are able to read reviews by people who have already bought a product. This has hidden joys – like the customer who bought a copy of a CD by Katie Price and Peter Andre and commented: ‘The impact this record will have on our world is comparable only to penicillin. Katie has the voice of a young Marvin Gaye, whilst Peter sounds like the smell of a new born baby.’ Or the customer who bought some tin foil and wrote: ‘When I wrap my naked body in this lush, extravagant foil I feel transformed, and I wander the streets, mostly at night, fighting crime…’ One of my favourites is from the purchaser of an invisible Bilbo Baggins action figure. ‘I bought this action figure but have literally no idea whether it arrived’ he said. ‘I think my son might have been playing with it, but maybe he was just making eerie passes in the air with his two hands.’ Honestly—who needs conflict when we can have a sense of humour. Have a happy holiday and a chilled New Year, and most of all—get over it.

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