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Two Rules Managing Disagreements About Safe Behaviors with Each Other and Customers

June 23, 2020

As we start to operate our trains, trolleys, and attractions again, we have very clear safety standards in place. Ideally, these procedures and protocols would mitigate any misunderstandings and clear up lack of clarity. That, however, may not be the case.

Policies are often open to the most subtle differences in interpretation. That goes for Cast Members and customers.   Some people are hugging, while others don’t even want to get near customers and colleagues. As the numbers increase in Southern states, some customers are adamant about wearing masks, while others feel far less stringent about it. Some are washing hands regularly, while others forget or refuse. In this climate, and at this moment, it is easy for conflicts to arise.

These conflicts aren’t easily resolved because they get to the core of some of our most basic human needs. Consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Level One is “Physiological Needs”  including food, water, and shelter. Level Two is “Safety” involving health and the ability to protect our families. Maslow argued that conflicts are most severe when our most basic Level One and Level Two needs are not met.  The more at stake, the harder it is to find middle ground.

I think of one woman in a recent article I read, who pleaded with her co-workers and customers to wear a mask and wash their hands because her child was undergoing chemotherapy. She simply could not afford to get sick but she also couldn’t afford not to work. On the flip side, there are people who believe that racial injustice is impacting their lives and the lives of their children so severely that they must march in crowded protests. How are we supposed to reconcile such profound needs on both sides?

We can start with the fact that there are rules, standards and procedures in place set by local government and businesses themselves. While people may not follow them, we aren’t starting from scratch. Here are two  actions you can take as a Leadager or Cast Member to prevent and resolve these conflicts:

The Rule of 3 x 3: There is a rule in communication called 3 x 3. It means that people don’t get a message fully until it is repeated 3 times in 3 different ways. Our daily briefings are a great time to repeat/reiterate our protocol and the reasons behind it. We also have an opportunity for Cast Members to share about situations that fall into the “gray area” to clarify any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the rules. Relying on briefings at this time, however, is not enough. As things change, we need to keep EVERYONE in the loop by emailing, texting, and posting information as soon as we can.

Get to the “Why” of Non-Compliers:  There are always two sides to a story. If some Cast members or customers are not adhering to the policy according to their colleagues, it is important to sit down with them in private and ask them about it. Listen to them, and then put the ball in their court by asking them what they will do to adhere to the rules. Leadagers should do this, but Cast Members can do it with each other as well.

With customers, we want to make sure we explain the reason behind the company’s decisions. In some states and counties, there is a policy in place to which we must adhere. If it is a policy of our company, practice using a brief yet clear explanation as to why we are doing it that way.

Things are changing daily in the world, and people have varying degrees of comfort about safety and behaviors they consider acceptable during this time. The most important thing we can do for each other and our customers in these uncertain times is to listen to each other’s needs, clarity protocol when needed, and constantly, relentlessly communicate. Not all conflicts are resolvable, but they can all be managed.

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