Experience in conflict resolution

I once bought some expensive city tyres for my mountain bike. I had checked with the shop assistant first regarding their compatibility with my wheel-measurements. After getting them set up with the usual brute force required, I went for a ride. I immediately noticed a bump in the movement of the back wheel which didn't go away and I could see it would quickly become irritating. I tried letting air out and pumping it back in again to help, but with no success. So I decided to return the annoying item to the shop: I felt that either I had been given the incorrect size, or the product was defective.

When I got to the shop I spoke to the same assistant as before, informing him I wanted a refund because one of the tyres didn't fit despite his advice. He quickly became angry and stated that there were dirt marks on it. In fact I had only been down the dry street and back so it was negligible, albeit visible. I got annoyed with his reaction, retorting that I could only find out that the tyre was defective by cycling on it, so some insignificant marks or dirt were inevitable. He was fuming at me by now but he levered the tyre around for a few minutes on the rim, claiming that the bump would level out with time.

Afterwards I sceptically left the shop and hopped on my bike, only to find that the bump was still as bad as before! Furious, I saw the assistance as a demonic arsehole who didn't respect his customers. On the way home it suddenly struck me that because of my anger, I had forgotten to exchange some unused brakes I'd bought previously. I cursed because I didn't want to have to go and deal with that nasty man again but I also didn't want to make a separate trip and I was only 5 minutes away. Then several things dawned on me. 1st of all I realised that there was a chance here to make an experience of transforming the situation into something positive. I saw that it hadn't even occurred to me that he might be right about the bump disappearing – I was basically afraid that life was against me in that instance. I also recognised that the assistant was alone in the shop and had to deal with several customers almost simultaneously and was probably stressed out. Furthermore, it was likely that he often had to deal with people bringing things back in ignorance and with an attitude of arrogance (through fear of losing money etc), claiming to have facts which he knew to be completely wrong from plenty of work experience.

It was then obvious that it was up to me to reconcile. I was determined to go back to the shop, exchange the brakes and show the man respect as another human being with his own set of pressures. Upon entering, without even having uttered a word myself, he came up smiling and put his arm around my shoulder, saying, “hey, I'm really sorry, but it was stressful having to hold the shop alone with all those customers." I too, beamed at him, replying that it was no problem at all – I understood completely. We then sorted the breaks out and parted on cheerful terms!

This story may not seem very dramatic, but for me it was another milestone because I knew that only through my decision to live consciously and the resulting successes that I experienced, did I have the hope and courage to deal with all my negative vibes towards this other human being. Otherwise I would have harboured a grudge, and these things tend to repeat themselves and build up a belief system that sees little or no potential change in other people (or ourselves) in conflict with us.

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