Whether in residential or commercial properties, conflict happens. It is an inevitable fact of life.
This is more the case where you have a mix of people from diverse cultures, languages and with different expectations.
Realizing that the parties involved may not have intentionally set out to have a confrontation would help you as a Facility Manager have a more balanced and un-biased way of diffusing the tension. Here are a few tips that can help you quickly intervene and resolve issues before they get “out of hand”:
- Stay Calm.
This has got be the number 1 most important key when dealing with angry parties. Do not let their anger rub-off on you or allow yourself be drawn into the exchange of words.
Stop and think before speaking.
- Listen objectively to both sides.
Listen to all parties concerned. Do not listen with the aim of trading blames or preparing a quick argument in retaliation. Listen with the aim of understanding everyone’s point of view. Note that most people use anger as a cover up for some form of hurt or fear. They may actually be angry at something else.
Allow them to speak, eventually the anger will be spent and they will calm down and be open to listen to reason.
Let each party know you understand how they feel.
Use Active Listening skills like nodding and saying “yes, I know” at intervals to let them know they have your full attention. This technique calms people down quickly because it gives them the impression their reaction is not “abnormal”.
- Pick your response carefully.
This is particularly important when dealing with angry customers. As a Facility Manager, you are an ambassador to the company that employs you. In most cases, the residents and clients relate with you more frequently than your Managing Director, for example. You are effectively the “Face” of the company.
Pick your response carefully so as not to make them defensive. Apologize first, explain later. Especially if a member of your team has offended the client. If you do not have all the facts right to resolve the problem immediately, politely let them know. DO NOT make the mistake of promising solutions you cannot deliver or do not have the authority to deliver. And whatever, you do, do not make the client look like they are lying.
- Attack the Problem, Not the Person.
Avoid trading blames except you are assigning the blame to yourself.
Do not use words like “you always”, “you never”, “you again?” and so on. Any comments you make at this point should not be personalized. When resolving issues between a client and member of staff for example it is wise to avoid using sharp reprimands on the staff. This can be done later in private especially when you have investigated and proven that the staff did not handle the situation properly. An added advantage of this approach is that the staff would have had time to calm down and would be more open to accepting whatever corrective measures you have in mind.
There are so many other skills you can apply in conflict resolution but using these five should equip you with the “emergency” ability to quickly calm frayed nerves.