Some people see conflict at every turn. It just seems to be a part of who they are. Admittedly, I use to be one of these people.
How to Avoid Conflict
I have heard people say that conflict is unavoidable. I guess, like many things, it depends on how you look at it.
I recently had a situation that had the potential to turn into conflict. I was at Lowe’s purchasing flowers. I was wearing one of those lovely boots that go along with having a fractured foot. You know the kind, it’s black and it goes with every outfit you own….
The good news, at the time, was that I could get around (finally) without crutches. I was so excited to be out on my own getting to buy some flowers for my porch. The bad news was that I couldn’t stand very long without being in a good amount of pain. So, I was trying to make decisions quickly. On this particular day, it was very hot and humid. This gave me even more reason to get on with the task at hand.
I was very blessed to have another good thing happen, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in years while I was considering which flowers I liked best. I was very happy to see her, but it was all I could do to keep standing and listening as my pain was growing the longer I stood and chatted.
I got through the discussion with my friend and, thankfully, I already had most of the flowers picked out and on a cart.
My cart (really a big trolly kind of cart) was very full. I was having a little trouble maneuvering it, but finally got it up to the checkout. By now, I’m in pain and a bit frustrated as not one of the associates offered to give me any help. Oh well, I’m a strong woman, I can handle it :o)
This is where the potential conflict begins.
The cashier comes around and says nothing to me, but quickly scans each item and then presents me with the total. I knew that pretty much everything I bought was on sale, but at differing percentages. Because she said nothing to me and the register was situated where I could not see the prices, I said to her (very nicely) – “I believe things are on sale, did they ring up that way?”
Her next move was where I forgot about my physical pain and the sweat running down my face.
She began to read, at a moderate pace, the name of each item and the cost from her screen. Maybe that wouldn’t have seemed so rude, but she said absolutely nothing to preface her action. So, I said something like, “it’s okay, you don’t have to read me everything I bought, I simply want to make sure the discounted price is what rang up.” (still very nicely)
A “yes, ma’am. You received the discounted price.” would have been GREAT by me.
She, however, replies, “I want you to know what each one rang up for.” Given, my physical and emotional state at this point – I had no idea if the price she read was the discounted price or not. Did she think I made a list of each item with the full and discounted prices? I’m sure there are people who do. I might if I had 1 or 2; not 10-12.
As she continued to go through the list, my mind became 100% focused on how fast I could get to the customer service counter to let them know how unhappy I was with the person they had working at this register.
Somewhere during my vision of filing a full fledged complaint she finished and asked if I would like some plastic for the back of my car so it didn’t get dirty from the plants.
Well, I thought, that was nice of her. “Yes, I’ll have some plastic” I replied.
Ronald Reagan said “peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
I’m sure the cashier knew I was not exactly thrilled with her continuing to read the list of items and the prices to me. However, perhaps, based on her history of working with customers, she felt this was the appropriate thing to do. I’ll never know.
Part of my frustration was my physical condition. She may not have even noticed that I was wearing a fashionable orthopedic boot and thus, would have no consideration that standing for another several minutes was the last thing I wanted to do.
As for the heat, she was probably hotter than I was since she worked outside all day. I don’t remember seeing sweat rolling down her face, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t effect her and heat can make the best people grumpy.
Obviously, when she kept reading the list to me I could have just bit her head off with a snarky comment. That would have been bad for all sorts of reasons. Not the least of which is my desire to present the character of Jesus. I am thankful I just let her finish.
She turned my grumpiness around when she offered me the plastic for my car. She probably has to do that with each customer, but it made me feel like she cared.
I took my plastic and my plants and hobbled to my car. In the few minutes it took me to do that, I had time to consider if I really wanted to file a complaint.
I quickly put myself in her shoes and considered that she probably wasn’t trying to be rude, but do what she thought would satisfy my concern about paying the discounted prices. Additionally, I try to remember that I never know what someone else is going through. I have no idea what condition her life was in.
I wouldn’t call her approach or tone good customer service, but it also didn’t warrant her getting into serious trouble on her job.
I think conflict can be avoided when we come from a place of putting others first. I do understand that some people seem to thrive on being at odds with people. And, sometimes, people are just downright selfish.
Take each situation on it’s own, consider what you know to be true and do the right thing. People who appear to thrive on conflict are generally very unhappy in life. Try not to add to it. Don’t engage in dialogue or actions that add no value.
Many times, like my situation described here, I had physical things effecting my emotions. Be aware of yourself. Maybe you need to HALT:
Any of the above will cause you to see things out of context and warrant taking a step back.
Sometimes conflict ensues because neither person is willing to just let it go. In these cases, pride is often the culprit. It’s unfortunate, but it’s all too easy to get caught up in needing to be sure we are right or that a person did not “get by” with something. For me, when I look back and assess this type of thing I find that it was not worth it. Pride is not our friend.
Please post a comment to share a time when you have been able to avoid conflict and how it affected you to do so.
Thanks for reading and sharing!