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How To Manage Conflicts – The BBQ Grill STory

B.B.Q. Grill (How to manage conflict)

by Rayfil Wong

Every year, my mom loves to host a B.B.Q.  We enjoy inviting our closest friends and eating together around the fiery grill.  At this year’s event, I had task to light up the barbeque grill.  I placed the black charcoal in the grill and threw a match at the snap of my wrist.  I was impatient so I added some lighter fluid and then the small fire patch burst into a tall tower of flame. 

I added some soy sauce chicken wings and saw them burn in a matter of seconds.  After being humbled, I read the direction and discovered that I should have patiently waited for the charcoal to turn grey before adding my chicken.

This incident reminded me about the situation I had with Mr. Computer, a former customer when I worked as a sales account manager at a high tech sales company.

I received a call from Mr. Computer right before I was about to take off for work.  When I picked up the phone, Mr. Computer said angrily, “You sent me the wrong motherboards and I need to build the computer system tonight and have it delivered to my customers tomorrow.”

  I abruptly interrupted and said, “I know you are angry, but your complaining does not do any good.  Now lets take the next step and send you out the right motherboard.”  Mr. Computer got more pissed and hung up.

A few weeks ago, I had coffee with Uncle Lo, a successful business man and life coach.  Uncle Lo taught me how to manage conflict.  Looking back at the motherboard situation, I should have responded differently.  The first step I needed to do was simply listen to Mr. Computer.  When I picked up the phone and sensed that he was angry, I should have listened and not said a word even though he was complaining.  Mr. Lo taught me that an angry person can only talk so long. 

If I listened to Mr. Computer rant and complain for twenty minutes, I would have a turn eventually to respond after being patient for twenty minutes.  I should have said, “Mr. Computer, I have listened to your complaint and I apologize.  I understand why you are frustrated.  I have been taken notes on the main points you said. 

I will stay at work until I see that the right motherboards be delivered to you the next day through express mail.  As a sign of my apology, I will give you free shipping for your next order.  I want to keep our business relationship.”

Often times in conflict, we are impatient and we interrupt the angry party.  When people listen, it shows that they care and writting down notes reaffirms even more sincere attention.

“Very quick to listen, very slow to speak.”


Image to remember: Barbeque grill

Business tip to remember: to resolve conflict, first listen until the angry person is absolutely finished.  Next, assure the angry person that you understand his feelings and take proactive approach to resolve the problem.    



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