What To Do When Conflict Strikes

A 5-step solution from coffee

The aroma of fresh ground coffee can prove irresistible. It evokes a deep sense of relaxation in me.

What To Do When Conflict Strikes

The only caveat is that its quality must be right. I don’t particularly appreciate the acrid taste of over-roasted beans.

Poorly roasted coffee beans are an assault on my taste buds. This when combined with the smokey smell of the burnt grind to evoke an emotional response. Immediately, my face contorts in protest.

At that moment, all systems activate to resolve this conflict. I will either request for a fresh cup of coffee or order another drink. The coffee barrister has to accept their poor choice of beans. I, on the other hand, need to give them an opportunity to redeem themselves. And this is the key to resolving conflict.

We can learn a great deal about conflict resolution from Starbucks Coffee Company. In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes how Starbucks’ employees undergo rigorous training to respond to customer needs. It is called the LATTE method.

We Listen to the customer, Acknowledge their complaint, Take action by solving the problem, Thank them, and then Explain why the problem occurred.”

If we were to apply Starbucks’ LATTE method to our leadership, how would that look like?

1. Listen

Listening is the first step towards any conflict resolution. Why? Because listening compels us to control our emotions, remain rational and deal with assumptions. It gives the other party an opportunity to express themselves in a safe environment. Listening earns us the legitimacy to express our thoughts and opinions.

2. Acknowledge

This is a deep understanding of the existence of the conflict. By acknowledging a complaint, it becomes possible for both parties to connect. The aggrieved person gets an opportunity to offer forgiveness. Both parties can now view the conflict from a common lens. And this gives them a platform to take action to resolve the conflict.

3. Take action

Accept and move on. This is the most difficult part in conflict resolution. It is at this stage that ego fights to take over. To solve the problem, the party on the wrong has to cross the line of resolution. The other party has a part to play too! They must embrace the spirit of resolution.

4. Thankfulness

It is important to show gratitude for the opportunity to deal with conflict. When we thank somebody from the heart, it reinforces that relationship. Thankfulness creates an environment of mutual respect.

5. Explain

Finally, take time to explain why the problem occurred. This is a critical step to learn from the problem. Both parties explore what precipitated and escalated the problem in the first place. In essence, everyone learns

Life is constantly teaching us that we are mirrors of one another and that no one is an island!” ~Auliq Ice

Q: How will this 5-step process help you with conflict resolution? Have your say by clicking here.

Certified Professional Coach, Communication Specialist & Author

I help motivated but overwhelmed individuals and organizations regain their purpose to lead so they can focus on what matters most to build a transformational legacy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Colleta Macharia

    Thanks for sharing these insights Kimunya. I will remember these steps, because I enjoy a nice cup of latte every once in a while; I have to add that my absolute best is a machiatto done Ethiopian style! It’s interesting that most times when faced with a conflict, the first urge is to explain our point of view (aka trying to justify ourselves). Mmh – LATTE.

    • You are right Colleta! Justifying our point of view (whether we are right or not) immediately shuts the door to resolution. I think a LATTE goes down better.

      PS. I would love to try out an Ethiopian machiatto 🙂