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Foundation for more effective dispute resolution

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After last week’s article, Dealing With Angry People, a reader commented that he totally agreed. The problem, however, was how to actually put that into real life. I agree. It is always easier to talk than to implement. This is especially true where emotions are involved.


The key is to determine direction before emotional involvements, and to become proficient in dealing with them. Here are some suggestions.


First, there must be a belief in the philosophy.
If you believe arguing is the way to solve problems, there is no need to go further. Enjoy your sessions and increased blood pressure. If, however, you think there is validity in the idea of an alternative path, you can make some changes.

Second, a procedure or practice must be developed that will actually facilitate bringing the philosophy to fruition. Back to targeting and focus. Remember that you hit only what you aim at. And, if you think you are not aiming, you still are. Sounds confusing? This is a discussion for another time. Just realize that you are going in a direction – one you consciously chose or one determined by the environment.

Third, the philosophy, procedures, practices, and training must be an integral part of the system. Particularly, it must include the front-line people; those individuals who meet customers, associates, students, parents, etc. It must not be just another policy or procedure prescribed by the head office and trained at the head office. That brings us to an important issue.


We are seeing extreme salary differences between leadership and line workers. Some CEOs are paid more per day than their workers receive in a year. That is obscene and negatively affects people. That king-servant attitude also often infiltrates the training and individual development practices. The top of the ladder – kings – get the training while the bottom get only what is necessary for them to function. Of course, that is foolish.


The key people in organization image, customer relations, repeat business, and word-of-mouth advertising are usually the lowest paid and poorest trained individuals – telephone operators, return desk clerks, and cashiers. These are the people we all deal with every day. These are the people who set the image of companies. They become the company to the people who call, have a concern, or want to return an item. How much training do they receive in dealing with conflict? How many workshops are they involved in, and at company expense?


If we want to be optimally successful, we need to provide increased training in how to deal with people – that includes angry people – more professionally and successfully. And, to be most effective, it should be provided before the problem arises.

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