Diffuse Conflict with Conversational Martial Arts

The Japanese say: “Once you lose your temper, you’ve invariably lost [the conflict].”Recall a lousy customer service experience.  You felt disrespected and powerless.  Maybe you responded by walking away in disgust or slamming down the phone vowing never to buy from that merchant again.

But you lost your cool without resolving the matter and that still nags at you.   Plus you still feel aggrieved.  You could exact revenge – maybe by warning others of your experience – but retribution is cold comfort indeed.  Instead, let me show you how to keep your cool and get what you want.

The next time you’re confronted with an inflexible person, don’t get angry and make a rash decision.  Use conversational judo to reframe the conflict.  Invite them to solve their own problem.

In the last post, I shared how asking a miffed client “How can I make it right?” invites them to sit at the same side of the table with you.  In the same way, asking a stubborn clerk “Is there anything I can do or say…” can defuse a tense situation and invite a service provider to join you on the same side in resolving a problem.

For instance, consider a clerk who is being inflexible about store policy and you’re at your wits’ end.  What would happen if before walking out, you were to ask “Before I leave, is there anything I can do or say… to get you to help me?”

By doing this, you put the burden back on him to resolve the problem by reminding him it’s his job to help.  You do this avoiding confrontation which allows you both to keep calm.

The more closely the other party identifies with the premise of your request, the more readily they’ll be swayed by your point.

If it truly resonates with them (in this example, if they sincerely believe their job is to help customers) they’ll incline toward resolution.  By reframing the disagreement, you put them in the position of either granting your request or acting contrary to their principles.  Most people will choose their self-image over a need to win.  And if you check your ego by asking for help instead of demanding action, you’ll prompt cooperation instead of confrontation.

By setting forth a mutual goal of resolution, you welcome the other party to take part in the process.  Once you’ve compelled the desired goal, you can allow yourself to be the passenger, not the driver.

If the other person remains inflexible or becomes emotional, calmly choose how to respond later or deal with someone else.

Are you worried your prices are too high?  In the next entry I’ll explain why your prices are probably too low.  And in a later post I share the Grandfather Discount, a painless way to raise prices without raising your customers’ hackles.  Until then,

profitable business All!

I appreciate your questions and comments letting me know how these techniques are working for you.  If you like the blog, please subscribe. I’m sharing these ideas because I hope they help YOUR company.  Let me know what business areas you’d like me to cover.  Thanks for sharing with other people using the links below.  And thanks for reading! I’m humbled by all the email.

2 thoughts on “Diffuse Conflict with Conversational Martial Arts

  1. John

    This post recommends an approach that is contrary to the normal "butt heads" approach, where the end result is almost invariably frustration or, worse, anger. This certainly seems like a much better approach! After all, what does one have to lose but frustration?

  2. Aaron

    Nice post, "I believe that the moment someone loses their temper in public or in the business world is the moment that they have lost whatever is at stake"


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