One of the biggest mistakes small-business owners make is trying to avoid conflict. This is problematic because in any capitalistic economy, conflict is not only an inevitable but a necessary part of all business. Through the process of “productive conflict,” companies can grow and become more profitable. The key is to be able to resolve them effectively.
Authors of Perfect Phrases for Conflict Resolution Lawrence Polsky and Antoine Gerschel describe the perfect phrases to resolve any conflict. Try out these phrases next time you need to do so.
Conflict Resolution: Customers and Vendors
- The last thing I want to say is no. Resolution is always easier if both sides believe their point of view is being considered. This shows what the other person has to say may change your decision.
- Our goal is to cover our costs. At the same time, we want happy customers. Every customer knows a good company makes a profit but is also concerned about customer service. This statement highlights the current problem as a business issue and stresses the balance that everyone can understand.
- Having no secrets between us is critical. If we can’t talk to each other, we will never be able to be productive. This emphasizes the need for clear communication. It's an effective icebreaker to start a difficult conversation.
- You're right. We did increase our prices last year. However, in order to address ____________, we need to do it again. This directly tells customers why prices need to go up. Customers typically have an easier time accepting price increases if they understand the business reason behind it.
- It seems things are not running as smoothly as they have in the past, and I would like to discuss that with you. This is a non threatening way to raise concerns to a vendor or customer. It highlights past success, expresses concerns about current problems and stresses a hope for the future.
Conflict Resolution: Employees
- I really appreciate your input into our team. This tells them their opinion is valuable even if it's not taken. This is important to most employees so they feel invested in the company’s future.
- We may have a misunderstanding, since I may not have been clear about my expectations. Putting the problem first on the manager as a simple misunderstanding is an excellent way to start a conversation, so it doesn't become combative from the beginning.
- What held you back from meeting your commitment? As a starting point, this allows them to point to possible reasons why something wasn’t accomplished and avoid direct responsibility. It's always much easier to start a conversation blaming other factors rather than yourself.
- What can I do to support you? This offers help to the employee to ensure they have all the tools to be successful. It shows the manager is on the same side as them.
- You're saying one thing and doing another. This is a non threatening way to show they're not getting done what they say they would do. This clearly addresses the problem of intention versus results.
Read more articles by Barry Moltz.