Conflict in organizations is inevitable, especially in a social, organizational environment. I have read and witnessed parties in various organizations getting involved in disputes. One instance of conflict occurred in an organization I was working with during an internship program. I was working with a certain restaurant whose name will not be mentioned. The conflict was about abusive and vulgar language, where one party accused the other of being rude, abusive, and lacking the respect to address her as required. The accuser claimed that the accused person addressed her by a rude name, ‘stupid,’ and said she was annoying, something that the accuser found irritating and that ensued to a conflict.
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Parties involved and Sides taken
The involved parties were an employee and a customer. The customer claimed that the employee, who was serving her, spoke rudely and said she was annoying upon asking him to clarify about what they had for supper. She took the matter to the customer care representative, who then forwarded the matter to the manager on duty for negotiation. Based on a survey, negotiation is one of organizations’ leading methods to solve conflicts (Lipsky et al., 2019). In most cases, some managers could have fired the employee in front of the customer to impress the customer. It would also be expected that the manager would have scolded the employee for poor service. However, he opted for negotiation to satisfy both parties. He first listened to the customer’s side of the story, then the employee’s. Eventually, the manager sided with the customer.
If I were the manager, I would also have sided with the customer. Even though I respect the employee, the customer comes first. As a manager, my work is to ensure that all the operations are running smoothly, especially on the customers’ side, because I have to ensure the business attracts and maintains customers. In that case, I would have taken my role to maintain the customer. On the other hand, I would not paint the employee’s dark side to the customer because I would not want the customer to think that the company employs rude employees. I would also not have sided with the employee because I would have lost the customer.
Siding with the customer because I would not want to lose her does not mean I would not have listened to both sides of the story. Logically, the employee made a mistake because no matter how the customer behaves, they have to be respected and served with the utmost care. The employee did not have to be rude to the customer, even if she was annoying or repeatedly asked the same question. Even though the customer was also rude, according to the employee, the employee would have assigned the customer to the supervisor rather than being rude. Avoiding being rude would ensure that he protects his employment, saves the company’s image, and retains the customer.
Various human behavioral factors informed my negotiation process. Firstly, I used the emotional intelligence factor to figure out the party I would side with. It involves being empathetic to others’ emotions and feelings (Afzalur Rahim et al., 2002). I know how it feels when one is rude and addresses one as annoying. I would have sided with the customer because I would have understood how she felt when the employee treated her as annoying, yet she was at the restaurant at her expense and was actually paying for her bills. In that case, I used emotional intelligence to understand the customer’s emotions and feelings. The experience factor also came into play. Through experience, I know that when a customer engages in a conflict with an employee or staff, it is advisable to side with the customer then caution the employee afterwards in private (Horton & Chandrasekher, 2015). It ensures that the customer does not feel unappreciated and is retained for the purpose of making a sale.
Defined Interests and entering and leaving points of my Side
The defined interest of the employee was that he wanted the customer to be respectful despite serving her as just a waiter. He argued that perhaps the customer did not respect him, considering that he held a lower position of serving and washing dishes at the restaurant. Hence, his interest called for some respect from the customer. On the contrary, the customer demanded that the employee apologizes to her, and she was compensated for the time she spent arguing with the employee. She asserted that she wasted a lot of her time that she could have spent on other things, asking for apologies and compensation.
The entering points were greetings to both parties, where the manager called them to my office for a talk. It was respectful, and both parties agreed. He started the negotiation discussion by asking the customer her side of the story, followed by the employee. The leaving points were assurance to the customer that such an issue will not happen again and that the company will work towards ensuring such employees are disciplined and trained on effective customer care.
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How the Negotiation Resolved
The negotiation was peaceful as both parties remained calm and reserved. However, the customer was a bit hyper, blaming the employee for wasting her time. They were both satisfied with the way the manager handled the issue, and the customer was compensated in the form of a 50% discount on the food she requested that night. The employee was equally happy and satisfied as the manager promised to keep his job and train him and others on effective customer care in conflicted stations with customers.
Afzalur Rahim, M., Psenicka, C., Polychroniou, P., Zhao, J., Yu, C., & Anita Chan, K. et al. (2002). A Model Of Emotional Intelligence And Conflict Management Strategies: A Study In Seven Countries. The International Journal Of Organizational Analysis, 10(4), 302-326. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb028955
Horton, D., & Chandrasekher, A. C. (2015). After the Revolution: An Empirical Study of Consumer Arbitration. Geo. LJ, 104, 57.
Lipsky, D., Avgar, A., & Lamare, J. (2019). Organizational Conflict Resolution and Strategic Choice: Evidence from a Survey of Fortune 1000 Firms. ILR Review, 73(2), 431-455. https://doi.org/10.1177/0019793919870169