Ellen finally arrived in person at the shop, excited to be back on the job. Her boss took one look at her and froze. “You got a haircut!,” she accused.  Ellen tried to explain that the salon was following all protocols and she felt it was safe, but the damage was done. Her boss, who has an auto-immune disease, felt threatened, and Ellen was sent home to quarantine for two more weeks with no paycheck. This type of conflict over safety has been mounting, especially since people are opening up their businesses and social lives.

What can be done to reduce or resolve this type of conflict, based as it is in people’s differing levels of risk tolerance? In the classic Getting to Yes, which introduced the idea of win-win conflict resolution, the authors (Roger Fisher and Bill Ury of Harvard) recommend finding an objective standard to use in negotiations. For example, instead of arguing about the price of the car, use the ‘Blue Book’ value.

Newsflash! Similar standards are now available for virus-related risks!Here’s a link: https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2020/06/from-hair-salons-to-gyms-experts-rank-36-activities-by-coronavirus-risk-level.html

How to Use the Standard

Instead of arguing about whether someone’s behavior is putting other people at risk, share the chart and discuss what level you can all agree is acceptable. Negotiate clear guidelines about which events and activities are okay. Or, if you’re dealing with a very anxious person, explain how you intend to keep them safe by limiting your exposure based on a point system, e.g., only one level 3 or 4 risk activity per day.

Obviously this tactic won’t eliminate risk conflicts, but when they break out, Conflict Coach can help. http://conflictcoachapp.com