Five tips to help resolve conflicts with customers and staff

Five tips to help resolve conflicts with customers and staff

Things slow down for many of us during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It is often a time to reflect on this past year and to begin to think about the new year with many of the Holiday events behind us. As someone who concentrates on resolving conflict, negotiating winning solutions and inspiring leaders I want to offer you some relatively simple tips to help make the start of the new year better for you related to potential conflicts with customers and staff. You are not alone. Consider this commentary and reach out to mentors to explore how these or similar ideas may work best for you in your situation.

With Customers:

  1. Reflect on you past experiences and what they have taught you
  2. Take the time to make sure you communicate clearly
  3. Acknowledge the specific needs of the customer
  4. Apologize
  5. Help customers how they want to be helped.

With Staff:

  1. Take responsibility after all it is your team
  2. Schedule a meeting to facilitate discussion with open ended questions

We want to clearly define the problem

We want to develop alternatives to the problem

We want to determine the impact of alternatives economically, socially and/or environmentally

We want to evaluate the impacts of different alternatives

We want to select an appropriate solution

We want to take action to implement the solution (possibly test it out first)

  1. Come with some suggested ground rules for the meeting, but encourage others to offer some other ground rules too

We all agree to be open an honest

One person speaks at a time

We will be respectful of everyone

Ask open ended questions not yes or no questions

  1. Listen to each other – really listen by asking open ended questions, paraphrase what the other person said, try to summarize what the other person said in your own words even better than what the person stated
  2. Don’t make demands, don’t jump to judgments, don’t assume you know all the facts, don’t interrupt.

Whether working with customers or staff it is important to de-escalate yourself, withhold negative judgment and really try to help the other party. By being patient, demonstrating understanding and listening to the other party. It is far more likely to end in a more amicable manner using these simple techniques.

Michael Gregory, NSA, ASA, CVA, MBA and a Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court is an international speaker that helps others resolve conflict, negotiate winning solutions and inspire leaders. Mike services clients business to IRS, business to business and within businesses. On point resources are available online at and check out the blog. Mike may be contacted directly at or at (651) 633-5311. 

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]