One time, when I was in the supermarket, at the front of the line for the self-checkout, a customer and the manager had apparently been going at it, at the point where I got there, they were having the last pieces of this argument where the customer angrily turned to the manager and said, “your employees need to learn how to spell” and the manager without missing a beat said to the customer, “you need to learn how to read.”
These personal attacks were clearly at the point where both of these people were so frustrated with one another, and it brings up two important points about conflict.
Number one is recognizing the kinds of things that tend to get you upset. Whether it’s disrespect or not being heard or whatever it is. Daniel Goleman talks in his book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ about what happens when we get emotionally hijacked. So, the idea is to make sure that you never get to that point by recognizing what the signs are that you might get there.
The second piece of advice that I have is when you do find yourself at the point of being that worked up, where the personal attacks are happening, get away from the source of the conflict as soon as possible. Physically distancing yourself is really important.
A side thought that occurred while I was watching this is there were about eight to 10 people standing in line, kind of fascinated and watching this argument take place, and were just standing there. When I turned around and looked down a few aisles, there was a cashier with no one in line, and that’s where I checked out.