When You Are The Third Party In A Two Party Conflict

by Dr. Rick Kirschner on July 1, 2011

Here’s some correspondence that you may find interesting.  I’ve interspersed my responses amidst the writer’s concerns.

Your latest ‘Make It Better’ enewsletter welcomed questions for your consideration. I have been wrestling with one that I have not come up with a creative way to communicate to the concerned parties in a way that won’t further set them against eachother…..

Setting: Busy recreation center, multi tasking and frequent interruptions. 2 front office workers – similar tasks to general public, with separate specific tasks to some functions. Desks one behind the other. Similar age range (50-60). Very different personal styles and professional aspirations: (a) is ‘not resume building’ and counting months to retirement (40),

So person (a) is counting the days. I always wonder if people doing this counting bit even know that they consistently choosing something that isn’t for something that is, and elevating it to the higher priority, thus missing the moment. All i can (c) on the other side of that is (a) and any of the other letters that miss the moment, will think they have no choice but to look back with regret. The total of this alphabetical stew is a net zero happiness in life. That’s my opinion.

Here’s my response:

One useful assumption you might make about this is that it’s the behavior of someone wanting to ‘ be professional.’  It’s a very formal mindset, rather than something done out of customer care.

Now, I’ll be honest about my reaction to such formal behavior. Seems to me that people doing this are missing out on one of the great joys of a great life. Caring about others and serving from the place of gratitude for a place in life to contribute, a place to know that what you do makes a difference. Because for whatever reason, we seem designed to find our greatest joy when helping someone else out.

I realize that’s my business. I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the often blunt edged tone of acceptable customer service.

(b) is resourceful, task oriented, eager to find solutions to issues and works to treat the customer with patience and problem solving, can be very social.

I do know that people pay attention selectively, and generally for reinforcing information once something is assumed to be true. Going by your description, it makes it pretty clear from your adjectives that that you probably prefer (b)’s style. I’m just guessing, now, so I may miss the mark on many of the details.

Back with more from this interaction next time (I don’t want to completely overwhelm you. I know how busy you are!) Your comments are always welcome.

Be well,


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