Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Resolving Conflict with Customers (and Spouses)

Here's are the highlights of an article from Slate Magazine about dealing with rude customers. It applies to relational conflict as well:
Aikido. This concept is borrowed from Japanese martial arts. "Masters of aikido do not resist the physical force of their opponents,"
Here's an example:
Don't interrupt the volcano while it's spewing lava! Take notes instead. Once the eruption is over, acknowledge your customer's anger by saying something like, "I know you're angry. I would be, too." If that doesn't calm your volcano down, remove him from the crowd so he can subside without losing face in front of the other customers.
Here it gets real good:
"All of us have a strong tendency to like people who are most similar to us," Barlow and Moller write. You must therefore find something in yourself that resembles the customer and display it. Obviously this is going to be tricky when the customer is in a really bad mood. If he's shouting, you don't want to start shouting, too. But neither do you want to be smiling. Instead, put on a sober face and make eye contact to acknowledge that this is a serious problem (even if it isn't).
Here's the marriage application:
The aikido method reminds me of some advice a mentor gave me when I got married 20 years ago. When fighting with your wife, he said, never apologize too early. Angry people need time to vent, he explained; apologize too quickly and your wife won't get what's made her mad off her chest.


  1. Interesting and reasonable philosophy . Did you ever used it in practice ?

  2. The main wisdom I took was not fighting when you're both hot. That never ends well.


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