How to handle conflict that arises suddenly.
Conflict can arise suddenly or seem to build up over time. Today I will be addressing conflict in the moment and what to do about it. I will give you an example. By the way, this scenario hasn’t happened to me, thank God, but I have witnessed it before. 😆. So - you’re returning something to the store because it doesn’t work properly. You have the receipt, but threw the box away. It’s only been three days since you bought it so you figure it won’t be a problem. However, you get to the store and the return line is extremely long. You wait in line for 30 very long minutes.
When you finally get up to the counter to return your item you explain that you bought this three days ago, took it out of the box, tried it once and threw the box away. When you went to use it a second time it didn’t work. You explain you want your money back because you don’t like to waste your time on things that have already proven to be an issue. The person behind the counter has an attitude, at least from your perspective. You can see it in her facial expression and hear it in her tone of voice.
"Don't let people who don't care about you, manipulate your mind, feelings and emotions or control how you think about yourself. Never give that much power to someone else." - Karon Waddell
She says in a cocky manner, “I can’t give you your money back without the box that it came in.” You hear, “I’m not giving you back your money because I don’t have to and there’s nothing you can do about it- ha ha!” You can feel your blood beginning to boil. You look around to make sure there are no small children around who may be injured by your head exploding. STOP! Don’t respond. Just say “Okay, thank you,” pick up your item and walk away. It doesn’t matter if you stood in line all day long. What matters is you calm yourself down before going one step further. Don’t angrily yell or clench your teeth and say “I want to see a manager!” Just step away and collect yourself first.
Even if you think you’re “in a hurry” or “don’t have time” you do. You have time to do what is best for you which is to stay calm, peaceful, and healthy. Getting that worked up over something that really isn’t all that important isn’t worth it. If you think that it is important enough to stress yourself out, you are probably not looking at it in the proper way. I can almost guarantee you that in a year that item you’re returning won’t even be remembered. But, over time, that type of response can eventually and literally kill you. If you have to come back another day, then come back another day. If you’re the busiest person in the universe and you just cannot come back and risk having the same thing happen, here are a few things you can do:
1) Once you’ve walked away go to your car or to the bathroom or wherever you can be away from other people.
2) Sit down somewhere - if you can. Take a slow deep breath in, counting slowly to 4: 1 (1,000) 2 (1,000) and so on. Hold the breath at the top, 1, 2, 3, 4. Then release the breath even more SLOWLY, 1 (1,000)…2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, until there is no air left in your lungs. Repeat this two more times. You should feel much more relaxed that quickly! IF YOU AREN’T USED TO DEEP BREATHING MAKE SURE YOU SIT DOWN TO DO THIS!!!
3) If you have time, go back into the store. Just find anyone who works there and ask for the manager. It doesn’t have to be at the return counter. Just ask the first person you see who works there. Sweet as pie say, “Excuse me, I need to speak to a manager please.”
4) Wait patiently, think about pleasant things that you enjoy doing. Sing a song in your head that makes you happy. Whatever you need to do to stay in the moment and stay happy - do that.
"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you'll find you get what you need." - Rolling Stones
Hopefully, you will get the results you want after speaking to a manager. If you’re not dead set on getting your money back, see if they will issue a store credit. If they will only give you a replacement, take the replacement. If they give it to you in a box, take it and then return it another day for your money back. If they won’t give you the box you can contact the company who made the item and explain what happened. Most likely they will give you your money back or something satisfactory.
I know this sounds like a lot of work and maybe you would rather rant and rave to get your way. But, there’s always the chance you will rant and rave and still not get what you want. Then what? You just won’t give up until you get what you want? You start screaming at the top of your lungs “These people are a bunch of thieves!” You get escorted out of the store by two big security guards, kicking and screaming; your arms flailing about, “I want my money back. I wan’t my money back.” The police drive up and take you away to a psych ward. Eh, well I guess that’s one way to get a bit of peace and quiet. A little vacay from the world. I’M JOKING!
It just isn’t worth it. I know money can be tight. Depending on what you’re returning, you seriously might be better off and less stressed out if you just throw it away. Or get the replacement and give it away or sell it on-line. Trust me, I am a frugal person. (I used to call myself cheap, but my sister-in-law told me to stop saying that because it isn’t true. She’s right. I’m not cheap. I would spend whatever money I had to by a gift for someone else even if it is frivolous because it would bring them joy- that is if I happened to have the dough to get it, lol). I understand money crunches and how it feels like the end of the world when something you spent a lot of money on is broken or disappears. But, the fact of the matter is - it is just a thing. You are irreplaceable. Remember that all of these little stressors can build up into one giant heart attack, or a stroke, or even the big C!
These steps work in any conflict. In any situation where you can feel your blood pressure rising. Taking a moment to calm down, This can save your job, your relationships…well just about anything were conflict is involved. Just stop. Calmly state “We will have to discuss this another time. I need a minute.” Step away from the situation, take a few deep breaths, collect yourself, and then go back. If you can’t do it that quickly. Let the person know you’ll have to get back to them another time. I’ll be positing another blog for long term conflict resolution which will give guidelines for Conflict Resolution that may need a little more detailed attention.
As a side note: I recently shared my blog topic with a friend who went through a drug rehab program. He told me I should share the acronym H.A.L.T. It is a reminder of the four biggest stressors that could cause them to crave drugs: Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired. HALT helps him to assess what could be causing his desire to take drugs. So, he takes a few deep breaths and analyzes if he is any of those four. Almost always the answer is yes to at least one of them. He can then take steps to rectify the stressor instead of reaching for drugs. This is a good analysis for anyone feeling like they are less than calm and patient. Assess whether or not you’re hungry or tired. If it’s one of those two, easily solved. Stop your interaction until you’ve eaten or had a chance to rest. If you’re feeling lonely, maybe call a friend and talk. If you frequently find that you are lonely, volunteer at a charity or something productive; or join a club or meetup group doing something you enjoy. If you’re angry, you might think it’s because of the situation you’re in at the moment, but it could actually be caused by something that’s deeper than just that given moment. An example is when people hate their job and then go home and take it out on their family. If that’s the case then you will need to address the underlying issue with a more structured conflict resolution. For that you can check out my next blog!