The “Two Tokens” Approach

Play episode
Two Tokens Conflict Resolution
Hosted by
Maria Laurin


Two Tokens Conflict Resolution

Thank you for tuning in to episode 117! Today’s short and sweet solo episode is centered around conflict resolution. You don’t need to be a business owner to benefit from this one, but I believe this episode will help when dealing with an unsatisfied customer or even an upset friend. Let’s dive in.

It goes without saying that you’re just not going to be everyone’s cup of tea…and that’s okay. But what if a customer is upset or disappointed with your service or product. Or let’s just say that you did, in fact, make a mistake, or maybe you fell short on a service you provided. How do you handle an upset client? I recently watched a video that explained Jean-Louis Gasee’s approach to conflict resolution. Jean-Louis used to run Apple’s operations in Europe. He explains that we have the choice between two tokens. One token is the “it’s not a big deal,” and the other is “it’s the end of the world.” According to his observation, whichever you choose, the upset person will pick the other.

So let’s take a look at an actual example. I recently placed an order for a product that I felt would make my business run a lot smoother. It took me months to decide to finally make this purchase. I scoured the internet, did my research, and to say I was excited is an understatement. Unfortunately, when I received my product, it was not printed correctly. I will spare you the details, but let’s just say that the customer service that I received was lacking. I emailed and finally called the company, eventually getting a minimal $10 refund. In all of my interactions with this company, no one acknowledged any wrongdoing, and believe me, I was beyond upset by this. This could have been handled in a way that would have left me raving about this business, but instead, it did the opposite. Using Jean-Louis’ token theory, all this could have been avoided if the customer service reps had met me at my level or had at the very least acknowledged that they had made a mistake. I suppose it’s a bit dramatic to say that my misprinted items fall in the “it’s the end of the world” category, but judging someone else’s disappointment means you’re missing the point. Don’t forget that I mentioned that this might have seemed like a minor purchase to some people, but to me, it was the hope for a more efficient process in my business. It was something that I took a lot of time and energy to research. So to use the “it’s not a big deal” token really made everything a lot worse.

As a business owner, I know there will be those customers that are not willing to come to a resolution, but we should, at the very minimum, try to make a good impression. An upset customer can be a wealth of information. If someone asks to return a product of mine, I always ask why they’re not keeping it. As it turns out, this is how I have created a few new products. Sometimes, your client may not know that you offer different sizes, colors, or services. Always ask them and have that open conversation. It may lead to you offering a new product or service too.

A few years ago, I shipped out an order, and I forgot to include a pair of earrings. When my customer emailed me, I automatically thought I could not have made that mistake. I then feared that maybe I had mixed up two orders. After receiving a picture from my client, I could tell that I sent the correct item but forgot to pack the earrings. The only thing to do now was to treat it like it was the end of the world. I quickly made the earrings, raced to UPS, banged on the warehouse door, and thankfully, they let me in. The lady at the counter told me that she had just closed out her drawer, but she made an exception and took my order. I paid over $70.00 to ship these earrings overnight, and by the grace of God and UPS, they arrived in time. We have options when it comes to doing business, and I have found that treating each problem like it is “the end of the world” calms the situation and puts things into perspective. It makes the offended party realize okay; maybe it isn’t exactly the end of the world, but they are by far more receptive to your resolution if you acknowledge their dissatisfaction. Although it didn’t play out this way, my customer could have said, “don’t worry about it, send them regular mail,” but had I made it seem like forgetting the earrings was not a big deal, there would be no chance at all that she would have said yeah, you’re right, it’s not important. If you want to create raving fans, return customers, or just be a good listener, don’t disregard someone else’s pain points.

I love that this works for anyone! Instead of being a one-upper or constantly trying to diffuse a friend’s anger, meet them where they’re at and watch how quickly things fall into place. Knowing how to make people feel heard and, equally as important, understood is a superpower.

Be sure to share this with a friend and tell me what you think! Look for me on IG at _handmadeceo or send me an email! I love hearing from you!

I’ll see you next time!



Some of the links may be affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I DO NOT receive any affiliate income from guest featured on the Handmade CEO.

More from this show