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Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 03 November 2013
in The Human Element

As the Barn Turns: Conflict Resolution for Those Sticky Situations, Part 3

In parts 1 and 2 of this 3 part series, we looked  at:

Scenario 1: A boarder's horse kicks another horse and the injury requires a vet call and stitches.

Scneario 2: A boarder's check bounces and they say that they have no money at the present.

Let's look at Scenario 3.



Scenario 3: An irate boarder leaves the barn and starts to bad mouth previous barn and trainer.




Some people are never happy. Lots of people don’t know how to take the high road. If someone is leaving your facility and you know that they are angry, you will be smart to have approached them from a listening point of view about what they are so unhappy or angry about. You can also, calmly, offer them options and other perspectives. If they remain unhappy and angry you can almost expect that they are going to bad mouth your facility and their experience there. Unfortunately the horse industry has plenty of this kind of activity. In this situation, if their claim is unjustified, you will want to take the high road and ignore their comments. The people that listen to them and buy in to what they have to say may not be your ideal prospect. And if their claim is unjustified there will not be a whole host of others that join in and agree that they had the same experience. If there is a whole host of others, then you have a bona fide problem that needs to be examined.




If the problem persists and you can’t ignore it anymore, then perhaps a phone call to the bad-mouther is in order. You can state that you understand that they left on unhappy terms and that is unfortunate, but that is not a good reason for them to remain unhappy, they should let it go and move on. If they are still very negative towards you and then continue with the bad mouthing, you have the option of contacting your lawyer and having them draft a letter regarding slander.





Conflict Resolution Tips


From these scenarios you can see that there are things that you can do ahead of time to avoid bad situations. As the old quote goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Yet the world is imperfect and so situations arise that are unavoidable, and in those cases you need to deal with them. Seeking an agreeable outcome becomes your job. If you take an antagonistic stance you will never get to that point. The commonalities of the scenarios above focus on:




1)Listen first. Try to uncover what the real issue is. Focus on the issue, not the person.

2)Remain calm and reasoning. This can be very hard to do.

3)Don’t blame the other person. Use “I” statements to seek clarification.

4)Work on areas of agreement and common interest, not the areas of opposition.

5)This isn’t a competition where one person wins and one loses. You both want to come out of it with an acceptable “win/win” outcome.

6)On that note, if only one person is satisfied then the problem will persist.

7)Be sure to express appreciation for the other person listening to you in the process as well.




If you can utilize sound conflict resolution practices, you are likely to stand out in the horse industry for your fair practices. Remember, the elements mentioned here will take practice on your part as well. Why not start today – it will get better with each time that you approach a sticky situation.


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About the author

Lisa Derby Oden

I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that is! Early in my career I owned and operated Derby Farm, a riding stable in Buxton, Maine. I have also worked as a freelance riding instructor and bring all this practical experience to my consulting work. Blue Ribbon Consulting focuses on business and nonprofit development in the equine industry. I provide evaluation, planning, research, marketing and problem-solving services to take you successfully through all your horse business transitions. I've worked with clients around the world, and have received state and national honors for my work in the equine industry. Since I love this industry and believe in it, I've also been a nonprofit founder, board member, and executive officer for local, state and national organizations. I've worked with nonprofits in strategic planning, program development, corporate development, fundraising, grant writing and grant administration. Part of this wonderful journey has also allowed me to serve as adjunct faculty and guest lecturer at several universities, and to deliver business development, marketing, and leadership seminars throughout the United States. I also developed and oversaw the Entrepreneurs Resource Center for a community college. I've published two books, have been a columnist and freelance writer for many trade publications, and am a partner in the CD series “Inventing Your Horse Career.”


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