Effectively Handle The Heat With These Fundamental Conflict Resolution Strategies Every Restaurant Worker Should Know.
When working in the service industry, you serve and work with folks from all walks of life–all with different personalities and different trigger points.
Providing a positive dining experience for your customers is the name of the game, but in the fast-paced restaurant environment, tensions can arise with fellow teammates, guests, and even management.
Whatever the situation may be, having the professionalism to resolve conflict instead of escalate is a fundamental skill to have as a restaurant worker. Here are a few strategies to have in your back pocket when you notice an issue begin to fester.
Keep it off the Floor
Arguing in front of customers is bad for business. Period. The overall dining experience can quickly tarnish with dismissive altercations with the staff or loud interactions between coworkers in the service stations.
Regardless of your role, professionalism should be at the forefront of your mind. If airing grievances at work can’t be avoided, always try to address the issue off the floor. This might mean asking someone to cover your section while you and another coworker talk in the breakroom or another part of the restaurant away from guests.
If privacy is not an option, one of the most effective ways to divert the attention of diners impacted by a conflict in your restaurant is to ask the manager to comp something, such as an appetizer or dessert, for the inconvenience.
Identify the Triggers
Is the issue about work, or is it personal? It may take a little digging, but recognizing the triggers that lead to conflict is the next step in preventing them from escalating.
We tend to bring our issues from home into work – it’s hard not to, especially when there is a work-life imbalance! However, doing so can result in impatience or aggression toward another person on the floor or behind the line.
Especially in a post-pandemic restaurant industry, we need more compassion and empathy for each other than ever before.
Keep Your Emotions in Check
When a customer berates you for messing up an order or forgetting to bring a refill– they can come at you with hostility. It’s natural to want to respond in kind, but this will only escalate the situation.
Restaurant workers must keep their emotions in check and remain professional. Responding to conflict with anger, frustration, or defensiveness can intensify the situation and further damage relationships or worse, create unsafe environments.
Maintaining emotional control involves active listening, empathy, and a willingness to see the issue from the other person’s perspective. We can quickly defuse tense situations to maintain a positive rapport with customers and coworkers by remaining calm and focused on finding a resolution.
Seek a Solution
The most challenging part when dealing with disgruntled customers or coworkers in restaurants is finding a solution that makes everyone happy. Do your best to reach a fair compromise that addresses the discussed issues.
Here are some effective strategies:
- Apologize and Acknowledge: When a customer complaint arises, a sincere apology and acknowledgment of the problem can go a long way. Acknowledging the issue and committing to addressing it can help rebuild that trust. Otherwise, you risk losing that customer for good.
- Active Listening: Whether dealing with a customer or a coworker, active listening is critical. Be fully engaged and let the person express their concerns without interruption. This shows them respect and helps in understanding the root cause.
- Problem-Solving: Collaboratively seek a solution to correct the issue. The key is finding a fair and practical resolution for all parties involved.
- Learn from the Conflict: After resolving a conflict, it’s essential to learn from it. Identify any patterns or common issues that may be causing repeated conflicts and take steps to address the root problems. This proactive approach can help prevent disputes in the future.
Conflict resolution is a critical skill to have in the service industry as it directly impacts team dynamics and customer satisfaction–which in turn affects the restaurant’s overall success. Stand out as a teammate by quickly managing and resolving issues with customers and coworkers.
As cliche as it sounds, be the change you want to see in our industry by contributing to a more positive and inclusive work environment!