Inappropriate Strategy for Managing Self during Conflict


So last month I had my hair cut from the same guy at the same place I’ve been going to for the past two years. I like this guy because he knows how to cut thick hair and gives me a short cut I can rely on. It’s just short enough that it’s edgy, which reflects the confidence appearance I am after.

He and I have really developed an ability to talk openly about ourselves, which leads us each to look forward to our next visit. Hence, in the previous visit I shared my enthusiasm for going to Miami FL where I would be presenting two workshops for a firm’s annual conference, enjoying the arrangements downtown Miami, and looking forward to my first major speaking engagement for a private group. So when Roger suggested I come in early the week of my departure for a complimentary “spruce up”, I took him up on it.

That afternoon came and I added a massage to the time there, supporting a new associate who offers chair massage. Shoot, why not since this visit wasn’t costing me anything? $15 was easy enough to afford. Of course the massage was enjoyable, which made my haircut even more enjoyable. But when Roger gave me back my credit card receipt after ringing me up I realized something was wrong. There was the cut and the massage listed, an amount I wasn’t planning to spend. Additionally, I realized he had forgotten his complimentary offer to me.

Stunned, I said nothing. First, I didn’t want to make a scene in his shop – which I wouldn’t have made, had I addressed it correctly. And secondly, I decided that I was putting too much importance on the dollar. So I signed, and drove away.

My method for handling that conflict was avoidance. Eventually I let this scenario eat away at me, because I didn’t like how I handled it. Which led me to call him. I knew if I didn’t, I would begin to question Roger’s actions, lose trust in him and no longer have the relationship I had. Simply because I didn’t address the conflict using the appropriate strategy.

So I called him. He apologized for being so forgetful, took the charge off my bill and committed to making it up to me, all of which he has done.

This scenario is less about Roger and more about me. And the way I tend to manage conflict. Of the 5 strategies we could use to manage conflict, most of us use only one or two. Yet depending on the scenario, any of the 5 could be appropriate.

The strategy I used was avoidance. Now in some cases, avoidance works. When the other person is a relationship that doesn’t matter to you or your focusing on things of more importance than the conflict issue. In my case, I couldn’t stop thinking about the extra charge to my credit card. Trying to get my mind off it, I played cd’s in my car, I focused on the traffic around me, but the scenario was unsettled in my head. I kept going back to the moment Roger charged me for both fees. Clearly this wasn’t an avoidance-appropriate strategy issue. Additionally, Roger was an important relationship to me. I didn’t want to distrust him, so I needed to give him the chance to address my concern.

The strategy I wanted to use but opted out of is Forcing him to rethink what he was doing or to hear the pre-arranged condition. For some reason I resisted, yet I see that under the time constraint of having to sign on the dotted line, it was the most appropriate strategy. Speak up!

Want to know about the 5 strategies, go to this link. It’s good information. And it can save you some time, relationship and grief.

Finding difficulty understanding what’s really at the core of the conflict? The information above won’t help until you can objectively see what you’re dealing with. In that case, contact me.

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On July 20th, 2010, posted in: challenges by