Knowledge Centre – Conflict Management Training

Fixed price for up to 15 delegates anywhere in the UK. No additional costs. Click here to enquire about training.
Perfect_Solution

31 Jul What to do when you can’t offer a perfect solution

Whisper it! In the complex world we live in there is often no perfect solution. Some roles just don’t allow you to give out free vouchers or money off. For example, when the customer is not entitled to the benefit but they still demand it, flight boarding has closed and the planned holiday is in ruins, or the patron is late for the opera and has to wait for the interval to get into the auditorium. We hear similar examples daily on our Conflict Management Courses. It’s very frustrating for clients but also very challenging for us as staff; particularly…

READ MORE
Marketing segmentation, target audience, customers care, customer relationship management (CRM) and team building concepts.

17 May How not to make your customers’ “invisible”

Have you ever arrived at a restaurant or other reception area to have people walk past you several times and you begin to wonder if you are “invisible”? It takes a split second to acknowledge someone’s arrival and give a friendly “be with you as soon as I can” to reassure the customer that they have been noticed and to give them this initial respectful greeting. The training carried out by The Conflict Training Company takes me to a variety of settings and I have noticed that the worst places for this type of behaviour are reception areas where customers…

READ MORE
conflict management superhero

06 Mar Non-verbal communication – how to make it work for you

Our face has a language all of its own. So has our body. We communicate not just with our voice; the tones, phrases and language we use, but with non-verbal communication as well … it’s called body language! The subtle nods, shifts in position, hand gestures, facial expressions and other body movements make up a complex melting-pot of messages that confirm what we want to say and authenticate our feelings towards the person we are talking or listening to. The problem is that those non-verbal signs, whether automated or contrived, can give out the wrong message completely and so exacerbate…

READ MORE
Be An Active Listener, message on paper, smart phone and coffee on table

19 Dec How to say ‘No’ when under pressure

I can hear the inner groans! It’s a tough one and saying no doesn’t come naturally. We all seem to be programmed to want to be acknowledged as a nice person. Saying ‘no’ has a feeling of guilt attached to it. We feel guilty or somehow wrong in saying that negative word. But there are ways of saying no that can be pleasant and non-confrontational. It depends on the circumstances of course, but here are a few ideas that may help to diminish the guilt and awkwardness of the situation and improve positivity. Take your time, relax, and run through…

READ MORE
People at a starting line with start text on floor

18 Oct What’s in your rulebook when managing conflict?

It’s October and we’ve enjoyed a fantastic summer of sport with Wimbledon, the Olympics and the Paralympics. As we edge into the autumnal season, cricket and rugby league championships have settled, the rugby union internationals are just winding up and the football season is in full swing. What could be more exciting? How about Conflict Resolution Day on 20 October? Yes, it really is an event and it highlights important issues and ways of thinking that occur in every day life. To raise awareness of how conflict can arise it’s worth reviewing our sporting greats. Questions to tackle As supporters…

READ MORE
group of people talking in social network

25 Aug In conflict the facts don’t matter

Here at the Conflict Training Company we like our facts. In fact, we love not just facts but evidence, proof, truth and anything that assures us that, “This is the way it is.” And as you will have noticed, we also love sharing facts. Our conflict management courses are full of tried and tested evidence to embed the facts in an every day scenario that you can relate to. Therefore, it may come as a surprise to hear: “SOMETIMES THE FACTS DON’T MATTER.” There you go, we said it. The important part of that statement is the “sometimes” bit because…

READ MORE
Man hand turning a knob in the highest position,  Concept image for illustration of high impact communication and advertising campaign.

20 Apr Top Ten Tips for managing conflict when working in customer services (Part four)

So, we’ve reached the final three of our top tips for effective conflict management. They’re all points we’ve touched on before in our previous Knowledge Centre articles, so do check back through the earlier ones for more detail. Top Tip 8. Acknowledge people’s feelings and ask them to slow down. There’s a reason why people are shouting at you – it’s because they are angry and they want you to know it! Until you acknowledge their feelings they aren’t going to listen to what you have to say. So try starting with “I can see you’re angry about this”, or…

READ MORE
Horn speaker for public relations sign symbol, vintage color - sun with blue sky

16 Mar Top ten tips for managing conflict when working in customer services (Part Three)

You might have heard the proverb that ‘you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’. The next steps of our top ten tips series reflects on this old proverb. If you are hearing lots of ‘vinegar’ from a client, responding in kind will provoke an escalation in the conflict. Responding with appropriate levels of honey will not guarantee a positive outcome but it keeps you in a less defensive state of mind, which can only help the situation. For more on this subject have a look in our knowledge centre for the article. Number 5) Be assertive Having…

READ MORE
Adhesive note with Good Job text on a cork bulletin board

04 Nov Top ten tips for managing conflict when working in customer services (Part Two)

In our last article we started our countdown of our favourite ten tips for managing conflict when working in customer services. We covered our first three top tips (in no particular order) last month, so here are the next two of our favourites. Number 4) Respect the person and speak slowly Having respect for someone who is acting like an out of control toddler can be rather difficult, but it is in your own interest to do the best you can. You might have at some time, when angry or upset, said something or behaved in a way that with…

READ MORE
Old Way or New Way

29 Sep Top ten  tips for managing conflict when working in customer services

If you work in customer service you will have your own stories and experiences of angry interactions with discourteous customers. It can sometime feel like a very challenging environment to work in. However, there are some tried and tested good practices which can help you to manage challenging customers.  We thought we should pick our top ten conflict management techniques – and (in no particular order), here are the first three of our favourites (more next month). 1) Manage your own conflict before you attempt to manage the customers. It’s almost impossible to manage another person’s conflict while you are in…

READ MORE
Network optimization concept

20 Aug Are your listening skills being hijacked?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”. Stephen Covey Listen skills are an essential part of conflict management – not to mention probably the most important skill when dealing with customers. However, most people from time to time have been asked by someone – in a somewhat accusatory tone – “are you listening to me?” Most of the time our instant reaction is “yes”, even when we really are not. We may be hearing what the other person is saying – although that is not the same as really listening…

READ MORE
Tin Can Phone on Wooden Background.Communication concept

14 Jul What’s in your conflict management toolbox?

What’s in your conflict management toolbox? “It is tempting if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail”. The above quote by American Psychologist, Abraham Maslow is very well known with people who are interested in conflict management – and we will reflect on its significance later. However, to begin with, let’s look at a quote from someone from the world of business. A man who has become synonymous with business success and wealth – John D. Rockefeller. By the time he retired at the end of the nineteenth century he…

READ MORE
Be An Active Listener, message on paper, smart phone and coffee on table

17 Jun Are the little things impeding your conflict management?

Conflict management is an interesting area to work in for many reasons, but one of the most interesting is the many subtle things that can affect how well conflict is managed. This true story will demonstrate that sometimes the smallest things can make a big difference. A few years ago while delivering a Conflict Management Training course to a group of managers a manager approached us during a break to ask; “can you come and do something with my team? Every time I’m giving them instructions they are always arguing the toss, or batting things back to me, it’s always…

READ MORE
People at a starting line with start text on floor

01 May The ultimate conflict management challenge?

You may have noticed from the adverts on TV and at the cinema that the big blockbuster movie this summer will be the new “Avengers” movie. It’s a film that features a character with infamous anger management issues – The Incredible Hulk. Now he is a conflict management challenge! Thankfully, unless you work for Marvel Film Studios you are unlikely to come across the Hulk in your day to day work – though that doesn’t mean you won’t come across some very angry and emotional people. So keeping it topical, here are three steps to managing conflict – Superhero style….

READ MORE
your-shoes

27 Mar How to put the customer in your shoes

The phrase ‘put yourself in the customer’s shoes’ is a well-used mantra on customer service and conflict management courses. Showing empathy to the customer is essential but why should it be just one way? If we are setting out to really understand the customer’s perspective it would be helpful if they understood our position in return.  When both sides, in a conflict situation, really understand each other there tends to be less chance of anger and blame dominating the conversation. So how do we get the customer to ‘walk in our shoes’?  As ever what you say and how you…

READ MORE
speak

29 Jan How to manage customers who insist they are ‘right’?

I was on a committee with two others recently and had some information that would have helped them to save some time. They were telling me about the stress involved in having to go through a particular process, again, with their local council.  I told them that I had been through that process very recently and it had changed considerably for the better. One would have thought that it would have been simple for me to get this information across to them. I could not even get to first base – the bit where they listen. Both of them proceeded…

READ MORE
Handling-aggression1-150x150

18 Sep A simple way to control your response to customer’s anger

Here at the conflict training company, we do a lot of travelling around the country delivering conflict management training courses and meeting customers and to be honest, the travel can be a challenge at times; trains delayed and cancelled, motorway traffic jams seemingly going on for miles. If that wasn’t bad enough, there are then some of the driving habits of the other road users! We can all think of examples, those people who hog the middle lane causing traffic to back up for miles, people swerving around from lane to lane. For myself there used to be a driving…

READ MORE
difficult-conversations-course-outline

15 Aug Making the most of your conflict management skills

Here at The Conflict Training Company most of the interventions and training delivery requests we receive are regarding how to best manage conflict when staff are dealing with customers. However, there is another area of conflict we also support people in managing – and that’s conflict within organisations; e.g. between members of staff. We think it’s an interesting area and we thought we would share some of the interesting facts and research we have come across on the subject; particularly as since the recession hit, conflict within organisations and teams has become a growing issue. Paul Farmer, the chief executive…

READ MORE
iStock_000009909710Medium

11 Jul Could you be criticised for the way you give criticism?

I’ve lost my thesaurus. I can’t find the words to describe how upsetting this is. Yes I know. You may be rightly critical about the quality of that joke. And you know, I would accept that criticism wholeheartedly. However, you may have been in a position when you’ve given criticism and it hasn’t been accepted in the way you may have expected. It may have even led to a conflict situation you would now have trouble managing. Our first response to this may be that it’s because the other person doesn’t take criticism very well, but that may not be…

READ MORE
speak

20 May Are you giving away more than you think when you speak?

“Hello” – That’s a simple way to start a conversation, but it may be more crucial than you think. Some interesting research was carried out at Glasgow University regarding how people make a decision on someone’s personality based on the tone of their voice. This study was particularly interesting as it found that it takes just a split-second of hearing someone talk, one simple ‘hello’, for listeners to form an instant impression. Everything from attractiveness, trustworthiness and dominance can be gauged by the listener on hearing that one word.  The research also found that these impressions were pretty much the…

READ MORE
phone-rage

28 Apr No need to take it personally

When listening to delegates’ stories while attending our Conflict Management Training Courses, we at the Conflict Training Company certainly appreciate it can be difficult not to take things personally when you are on the receiving end of shouting, name calling and blaming. However, what we also know that if there is one thing that can cause you to lose your cool in a conflict situation, it’s taking things personally. This is particularly true for people who work in customer services and who deal directly with members of the public. Quite often the customer’s issue is with the situation or the…

READ MORE
shhhhh

26 Mar Are you giving your customers the silent treatment?

I was talking to someone the other day who has to deal with customers who are often angry or upset (or to be accurate, angry because they are upset!).  An interesting topic came up.  When faced with someone raising their voice, or at least angrily making their point at them, this individual would try not to engage with them.  We had a discussion about this strategy, the pros and cons of it. The person in question, who works at a Council, said that they didn’t have the energy to argue with the customer and would just hope that the person…

READ MORE
Lone-Worker-Training-150x150

18 Dec Three steps to disagreeing with customers agreeably

I’ve been doing some conflict management training recently with a team of people whose job it is to resolve customer complaints for the company they work for. It’s not an easy job.  Imagine, every call they receive is some disgruntled customer, angry about the way they (perceive) they’ve been treated. (By the way, why is it you never hear of “gruntled” customers, only “disgruntled” ones?!). Anyway, it’s a thankless task at times, particularly as the last thing the employee wants to do is upset the customer further, as they need to maintain a good relationship with them. This is even…

READ MORE
Handling-aggression1-150x150

14 Nov When customers won’t take NO for an answer

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…

READ MORE
listening-in-relationship1-150x150

07 Oct How to use “You” and “I” in Conflict Management

Before a recent holiday this summer, I was in the airport departure lounge and happened to find myself next to a couple arguing. It was one of those arguments where they were ‘shouting in whispers’ through gritted teeth, trying not to draw attention to themselves.  Anyway, despite being on holiday and not really wanting to think about conflict management training, I couldn’t help noticing they were doing something really common when people argue; they were over-using the word “you”.  It was all, “You did this”, “You never do that”, “You should have…”. It reminded me about one of the simplest…

READ MORE
156089-849x565r1-is-she-angry1-150x150

19 Jul When is a quick solution for the customer not the best option?

We all love finding solutions. Whether it’s our problem or someone else’s, we get a positive kick from getting it sorted.  Of course the sooner we get to that solution the better – or is it? Research has demonstrated that we only remember between about 25% and 50% of what we hear. Furthermore, what we actually hear correctly in the first place is determined by how good our listening skills are – and research also shows that most of us tend to overestimate those! So there is a lot of information we are missing out on. This can lead to,…

READ MORE
Conflict-Management-Training-150x150

30 May Improve your conflict management skills by avoiding assumptions

Anger is never without reason – but seldom with a good one”.  I love the above quote by Albert Einstein – and thankfully, you don’t have to be a genius to realise it’s very true. That said we’ve all had times when we get angry when really we know (at least later on), that really there was no reason to. One situation I would get wound up about is that situation when you are driving up a narrow road and a car is coming the other way, so you choose to pull over to let the other car pass, but…

READ MORE
Assertiveness-Training-2-150x150

19 Apr Why there’s no need to shout!

Flicking through the channels on TV these days there are no end of reality TV shows following people around doing their jobs – parking attendants, customs officers,  environmental health officers, airline staff, police – the list seems endless. Mind-numbing as these programmes can be, they do all share one thing in common; at some point the person doing the job has a member of the public shouting at them! If you’ve ever been faced with a customer who wants to complain at the top of their voice to you, I’m sure you’ve encountered how difficult it can be to calm…

READ MORE
home_slide_1

14 Mar It’s good to talk – but even better to listen

I read a quote the other day from Winston Churchill, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Wise words indeed, but it also reminded me that although we may have the skills to stand up and speak, we may not have the skills to sit down and listen! It’s not surprising if you cast your mind back to your school days. I’m sure you remember the hours and hours for several years you spent learning the skills of reading. And the same for writing as well,…

READ MORE
Managing-difficult-people-150x150

18 Jan How to have difficult conversations successfully

Whether it’s with our colleagues, the boss or the neighbour next door we all need to have conversations that can cause us difficulty.   Frequently we fear our own reactions – how are we going to control what we say and do when we open up the discussion? To help you, let’s consider some principles. Principle 1:  Make observations not judgements. We frequently observe someone’s behaviour and make a judgement about it.  For example, “the boss made an angry comment so she must not be happy with my work”.   “The other department got the report first so my department is not…

READ MORE
Handling-aggression1-150x150

20 Oct What if the customer won’t calm down

We train on our conflict management course to handle difficult behaviour but what happens if the staff member cannot get the customer to behave appropriately?  Does that mean they have failed?  Many members of staff will experience that belief after the event.  The truth is we can only calm a situation if the customer consents to calming down.  They can withhold their consent and make life very difficult – it’s their choice. If we make ourselves responsible for a customer’s behaviour when they are withholding consent we put ourselves in an impossible position. Staff can get very stressed if their…

READ MORE
Assertiveness-Training-2-150x150

09 Sep Avoiding clichés when managing conflict

The use of empathy by staff is often a direct attempt to shut the customer up. Customers can sense this and that is why they frequently react negatively. Phrases such as “I hear what you are saying”, “I know how you feel” or “I understand what you mean” are of little value if what staff actually mean is “are you finished?”. If by using this type of ‘empathy’ our aim is get the customer to stop speaking, customers will see though the sentiment and get even more upset. It’s common to hear attendees on our conflict management training course say…

READ MORE
Dealing-with-Difficult-Phone-Calls-150x150

01 Aug How are your staff dealing with customers?

What a time. Got up twice during the night and went across the road. Dad telephoned twice. The first time it was just that he wanted his window shutting but his window was shut and I managed to get him to realise that. The second time he said he wanted to go to the toilet. Go you daft bugger I thought. ” I can’t, mum is on the toilet”, he said. I went over this time and the dawn had not yet broken; it was freezing. Mum was lying in the hallway between dad and the bathroom. She wasn’t in…

READ MORE
Lone-Worker-Training-150x150

01 Jul What happens when the customer is wrong

When people are not prepared to accept the decision of staff, there will be confrontation. In confrontation, staff are saying: “You cannot have what you want or perhaps in the form you want it”. The confronting person is saying in return: “I don’t care what you say, I want it – my way – now!” On our conflict management courses staff frequently ask – “how can I stop this or at least prevent the customer from getting angry?” It’s as if some magic exists that can be applied to stun the customer into silence. By all means if you have…

READ MORE
Conflict-Management-Training-150x150

01 Jun Changing how we view difficult customers

One of my favourite ways of taking a break, apart from grabbing some fresh air and going for a walk, is to randomly pick a TED talk to watch online. This is a website dedicated to spreading inspiring ideas by selecting top-quality conference talks from scientists and specialists from across all fields that – and here is the winning formula – last no longer than 20 minutes. This is how I recently stumbled across William Ury, an anthropologist and mediator who talks like a storyteller about his involvement in some of our times’ major global conflicts, from South Africa, to…

READ MORE
Managing-difficult-people-1-150x150

01 May How to manage conflict when speaking different languages

A Greek woman told me recently that Greeks habitually talk over each other in almost any situation (maybe it was just her family) – clearly a behaviour that would horrify the British if treated in the same way! This made me think about the difficulties of cross-cultural communication, especially when there is a language barrier. The challenge is that, even with all the good will in the world, miscommunication is bound to happen in such a context, which can easily lead to conflict or aggravate an existing conflict. Culture is the mix of ideas, attitudes and behaviours that helps us…

READ MORE
Personal-Safety-150x150

01 Apr Setting things up for conflict

I had the opportunity recently to accompany a young friend to a busy German Job Centre, as moral support. I can see now why she needed it. It was early in the morning and there was already a sizeable queue; all 12 help desks were staffed and obviously busy. We were corralled within barriers, the likes of which you find in front of cheap airlines’ check-in desks. The atmosphere was morose. People kept glancing furtively at each other but avoiding eye contact. Standing in that line is not for the proud and successful. Every time we turned a right corner,…

READ MORE
Personal-safety-training-150x150

01 Mar Managing conflict is no laughing matter!

A friend of mine recently flew over to Germany to visit some relatives. Being an adept of ‘travelling light’, she had only brought cabin luggage with her. But in that one small suitcase, she had tried to sneak through a jar of homemade jam. Now, this friend knew full well she was taking a risk; she knew of the strict ‘no liquids above 100ml’ regulation but she counted on the following: 1. Maybe naively, that the jam jar would not show up as ‘potentially dangerous’ on the x-ray; 2. If it was spotted, she could argue that jam is not…

READ MORE
Large-baby-150x150

01 Feb Are you road-rageous?

A participant on one of our conflict management courses once admitted to fits of full-scale road rage including on occasions jumping out of the car, making rude gestures and intimidating other drivers. He then added rather sheepishly that the only times he managed to curb these seemingly uncontrollable eruptions were when his young son was sitting in the back of the car. Interesting, how a simple change of perspective (‘my son is watching and learning from me’) can bring about such a change of behaviour (‘I’d better get a grip and calm down’). So how is it for you behind…

READ MORE
Assertiveness-training-150x150

01 Jan What angry customers want

During this current credit crunch the public need their banks and money to be safe (our primary want). In theory then, if our financial institutions are safe, we should all feel satisfied. Unfortunately for the banks, we also have some other, secondary wants that are not being addressed and are causing a lot of disquiet. It would be nice to know for example, who is responsible? Are they going to explain what happened? Are they going to apologise? The same holds for angry customers; they usually have a primary want (the payment, repair, delivery, or other service). However, if they…

READ MORE
Fixed price for up to 15 delegates anywhere in the UK. No additional costs. Click here to enquire about training.

captcha