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Conflict Resolution, Business, And The Kid With The Crabapple

Getting corrected stings, but is best for the long-term.

Immediate corrections are tricky, but almost always benefit the long term. | Magic Room Brand

I was asked a few days ago about Conflict resolution and my point of view on how I handle it. Conflicts, no matter what you do or where you are, happen. Some are big and some are small. Some are frequent and some rarely come up. But all that aside, they all are inevitable and can…no, wait…should be expected.

Having not been given a specific situation, I gave a general answer that had to do with hearing people out, working to understand where they’re coming from instead of immediately developing a counterpoint and waiting for your turn to speak, and then focusing on keeping it fair — not only Fair to the person who has brought up the conflict, but also fair to you, fair to others peripherally involved, and fair to whatever longer-term objective lives in whatever brought you both together in the first place (student/teacher, spouses, co-workers, etc.).

Example: That one kid who did that one thing that one time.

It was a few years ago and I was driving home from work after a long day. It was springtime, I think, because I remember it being nice out and it was still sunny so the days were longer and everyone was in a good mood. Just around the corner from my house, there was a school and I noticed some boys — around 10–12 years old — on the sidewalk. As I drove by, one of those rascals threw something at my car and I heard it hit and bounce off.

Nope. Not today, buddy.

Screeeech. I slammed my brakes and threw it in reverse. His friends were already running off. He stood there, alone and frozen, while I backed up and rolled my window down.

I knew all he did was throw a little Crabapple at me and God knows that I’ve done that — and even dumber shit — in my day, but this kid needed some straightening out. By the time I backed up, a teacher was already letting him have it. They both slowly looked at me and waited for me to say something.

“You should probably stop doing that,” I said sternly and juuuuust the right amount of too loud to add that extra edge.

“Yes sir,” he sheepishly replied.

And that was it. No damage to my car so I let it be and drove off.

Thank me later, kid.

The way I see it, I did that kid a HUGE favor. He’ll never throw another crabapple at a car ever again and that’s a good thing, especially for him, because it’s more than likely that the next person was not going to be as nice as I was. They might have lost their shit and screamed at the kid, then screamed at the teacher, then maybe even sued for damages. Who knows?

I did that kid — and whoever the next victim would have been — a favor. That’s my justification for being assertive, saying what needs to be said, straightening someone out, and then moving on.

Conflicts come in all shapes and sizes, but if both parties can focus on being fair and addressing the “right now” in the greater interest of the long term, then maybe a resolution is easier to find. Maybe?

Customer service is an opportunity

Fortunately for me, so far, Magic Room Brand hasn’t instigated a whole lot of conflict for me as I am obsessed with customer service. In the few times where I did have to address a concern, I saw it as an opportunity to express the character of the brand while also showing appreciation for the chance to make it right. Those instances were resolved and ended well.

In those cases…I was kind of the kid that threw the crabapple that’s getting straightened out. Not that I did anything harmful on purpose like that little rascal, but I am appreciative of customers who care enough about the growth of the business to flag an issue with me and give me that chance to improve and make it right — for them and future customers. I have yet to come across anyone mean or upset (*knocks on wood*), but if that day should arrive, I feel prepared.

Fixing the “now” and being open to making sure issues don’t repeat itself is how you improve…and improvement — in entrepreneurship, as well as most other things in life — is the name of the game.

As for that kid, I hope he learned his lesson. That said, I gotta say that it was pretty good aim. I mean the timing was right and everything.


Vijoy Rao || Founder // Magic Room Brand
Eco-friendly musician accessories for today’s musicians. Sound. Strength. Sustainability.

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Conflict Resolution, Business, And The Kid With The Crabapple was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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