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The Conflict Pivot: Turning Conflict into Peace of Mind

tammy-lenskizena ZumetaTracy CulbreathIf you’ve been told not to take conflict personally, you only have half the story. Before you can do that, you have to take conflict more personally. In this program, Tammy Lenski, author of The Conflict Pivot: Turning Conflict into Peace of Mind, will discuss three simple practices you can do on your own, anytime and anywhere, to avoid the most common conflict resolution mistakes, understand why certain conflicts get their hooks into you, and figure out how to liberate yourself.


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What if the customer is not always right? – Strategies for Businesses in Dealing with Troublesome Customers


We have all heard the phrase, “the customer is always right”, it has been an expression used since the early 20th century in businesses across America. The concept behind the phrase was to give customers the feeling that their needs and desires come first and foremost. But is this the right way to do business? What if the client is, in fact, wrong?

I have worked as a waitress in the food industry, and I can say from experience that there are many situations when the customer is not right. The client’s satisfaction is important, especially for a waitress working for tips. These incidents can be difficult especially if the customer requests to speak to a manager. But what should employers do in these situations? Do they back their employees? Or do they side with their clients?

According to a blog article on Huff Post Business, Gordan Bethune the former CEO of Continental Airlines believes having your employee’s back is more important than the customers. Bethune explains, “You can’t treat your employees like serfs. You have to value them…If they think that you won’t support them when a customer is out of line, even the smallest problem can cause resentment”. Resentment in the workplace is problematic for business. Employees, who do not trust their employers, will not work hard for them.

When conflicts arise between customers and employees, employers may find it difficult to navigate because while standing behind their employee is important, customer satisfaction is necessary for a business to grow. There are several general tools that the employee and employer can use when working with troublesome customers to move from conflict to resolution.

Lee Jay Berman founder of the American Institute of Mediation (AIM) suggests that the essential first step to resolving any conflict is to keep your cool. The moment people get angry they are no longer listening or hearing what is being said to them. If the customer is dissatisfied with the product or service they may get angry, it is important not to react in the same fashion, or the capacity to move forward will be lost.

The second step towards resolution suggested by Mind Tools is to listen actively to what the other person is saying. To actively listen means that one person is listening to what the other is saying, rather than thinking about what they will say next. When dealing with dissatisfied customers, it is important that they feel that their grievance is being heard. If they do not feel this way, they may become angrier.

The next step to solve the issue, apologize. Even if the customer is in the wrong, apologize for the inconvenience, the mistake, etc. Just acknowledging their grievance with an apology can assist in cooling tensions.The final step towards resolution is figuring out a solution. The employer must find a solution that satisfies the customer, but also preserves their establishment’s integrity.

While these are general tools that can be used to resolve a conflict between an employer/employee and a client, not every situation warrants a resolution. The phrase “the customer is always right”, implies to the customer that even if they are wrong, they are still right, which is not the case in every situation. Employers need to recognize that the quality of the customer is better than the quantity. As Alexander Kjerulf explains in the Huff Blog Business, “Most businesses think that “the more customers the better.” But some customers are just bad for business.” It is important that the employer can recognize the difference between the customer worth saving, and the customer worth letting go.

While the customers are what make the business prosperous, some customers can cause more problems. In situations where the customer is not right, employers must support their employees in order for them to feel valued. It is essential that employees know how to handle conflicts with dissatisfied customers efficiently, so that they can resolve and move forward. But, it is also essential for employers to know when a customer is more harm than good for their business.


Abigail Clark

Graduate Student, University of Baltimore –

Negotiation and Conflict Management Program



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Holiday Shopping List: Conflict Resolution Style!

Holiday Gift Guide 2The holiday season is quickly approaching. Do you know what to get that special someone in your life? No fret. Let this Holiday Shopping List be your guide to the perfect holiday gift for the peace solver in your life. “As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.”     – Donald E. Westlake.

Leave the aggravation behind and give a gift conflict resolution style.

Holiday Shopping List
(click on title for web link)


Minibuk Stop the Dreaded Drama: 55 Tips to Ending Destructive Conflict
Author:  Pattie Porter

Winning from Within: A Breakthrough Method
for Leading, Living and Lasting Change

Author:  Erica Ariel Fox

I am Malala
Author:  Malala Yousafz

Twenty Twinkling Stars
Author:  Laurie Schloff

The Big Book of Conflict Resolution Games
Author: Mary Scannell

Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree:
61 Stories Of Creative & Compassionate Ways Out of Conflict
Author:  Mark Andreas


Friendship Island

Conflict Resolution Thumball

Non-Violent Video Games


The Bentwood Collection


Peace is Sexy Swag


Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris

Peace, Love and Misunderstanding
tarring: Catherine Keener, Joseph Dunn

Pay It Forward
Starring:Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment


Voices from Around the World: Original Songs of Love for Newtown
Various Artists

Peacetones Fair Music Trade
Various Artists

Music & Conflict
Artist:  John Morgan O’Connell

Toumani and Sidiki
Artists: Toumani & Sidiki


World Peace Game Foundation

Happy shopping and have a safe holiday season!

By Yvette Watson Jenkins

Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program



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It’s a Celebration: Conflict Resolution Day!


In 2005 the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) established a worldwide initiative- Conflict Resolution Day, which occurs every third Thursday in October. The purpose of this day is for dispute resolution practitioners to celebrate and raise awareness about conflict resolution methods such as mediation, arbitration, conciliation, etc. The logo designed for this event is a tree rooted in the ground with leaves that depict the avenues in which an individual can resolve conflict: mediation, conciliation, facilitation, arbitration, negation. Our logo of the tree was designed as a symbol to celebrate growth in Conflict Resolution. The first year, start small, but just like the tree the seeds you plant one year, will continue to grow and blossom each year (ACR.com). As an annual occasion, many organizations have established numerous events/programs in honor of Conflict Resolution Day. This year on October 16th the following programs/events are being held (please note this is only a partial list):

Conflict Resolution Day Activity Suggestions:

  • Create conflict resolution promotional material and distribute it to the public on Conflict Resolution Day
  • Hold a conflict resolution workshop at a local college or university
  • Recognize conflict resolution leaders and or volunteers in your community
  • Produce t-shirts, mugs or other items supporting conflict resolution
  • Propose story ideas to print and broadcast media

What will you do to celebrate Conflict Resolution Day?

To learn more about Conflict Resolution Day visit the ACRnet.org click on the home page/education & training/conflict resolution day.

By Yvette Watson Jenkins

Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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Lowballing the Public: Mediators serving without a binding ethics code on 40 hours of training

Dr. Jack R. GoetzPattie-fade.jpg (2)Bio PictureThe practice of mediation is largely unregulated throughout the United States.  In contrast to more formalized professions, such as nursing, social work, law, medicine or accounting, mediators generally have a fraction of the training, have no required ethics code, and no minimum quality testing.  Dr. Goetz will chronicle current efforts in voluntary mediator certification underway in California to raise the level of mediator education and training and require a binding ethics code to serve the public.


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