When Things Go Wrong

Monday, July 4 2016

KeepCalmA few years ago I bought a new car with a backup camera. My car was only a week old when I decided to practice manoeuvring with it into a parking spot. I thought it was a great opportunity to use the reversing camera; but it was not to be. As I backed up I heard a soft crunch. I had hit the vehicle on the other side of the lane.

The driver of the other car was furious, swearing, thoroughly objectionable, and demanded money on the spot. I clearly understood his pain; he had just repaired his car where someone else had backed into him…in the same place. I stayed calm while he continued to yell. We finally agreed how we would handle the situation and that I would meet him at 6 p.m. that evening. Although still upset he became more rational. I kept him in the loop by texting him throughout the day.

When I arrived at 6 p.m. sharp he was waiting for me and immediately apologized for his behaviour. I gave him the cash, and he refused to count it saying, “No need you have done everything you promised.” We came to a peaceful and agreeable conclusion.

The key to dealing with differences is to:

  • Keep calm – and keep the emotions down. When you maintain calm, just as in my story, others will start to mirror your behaviour and settle as well.
  • Allow others to vent, for a short time. For minor issues give the individual a minute for their “Pity-me-party.” Allow a little longer for more serious issues. Then spend the time on getting to a solution.
  • Develop and express empathy. I totally understood his annoyance.
  • Keep in mind that, “It is what it is.” Accept that sometimes situations cannot be changed. I couldn’t suddenly rewind the movie and not hit him. It was done.
  • Take responsibility. Laying blame never gets us anywhere.
  • Think Win:Win and find the best way to satisfy both parties.

Appreciate that coming to a mutually agreed upon conclusion is more important than being right and you will find dealing with differences becomes much easier.