What Car Battery Should You Choose? Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM), Gel Or Wet Cell

An electrical problem that doesn’t let your car start and leaves you stuck in a parking lot or some place away from the fix that’s needed is an unwanted problem we all do our best to avoid. So what can you do to lessen the possibility of a possible unwanted situation that involves an electrical system crash in your vehicle?

First of all make sure you spend double the money on a good car battery. A lead acid battery can cost between $75 to $125 dollars. The only reason liquid lead acid batteries are the most commonplace is liquid lead acid batteries were first developed in 1859 and they are the least expensive in today’s world of automotive engine starting sources. In 1971 the sealed liquid lead acid battery was created that made it maintenance friendly.

VRLA (valve regulated lead acid) batteries include gel and absorbed glass mate which are not liquid. Gel batteries are as the name applies which is a “Gel”. AGM batteries are silicate glass fibers mixed with boron and formed into a mat that holds the electrolyte. Non liquid gel batteries were created in the late 1920′s and lead to the creation of the “Absorbed Glass Mat” batteries in 1957. The AGM (absorbed glass mat) battery was put into production in 1972 but mostly used for military applications and non vehicle applications like boats, motor homes, motorcycles and electronics. Nowadays you see more AGM batteries becoming available for use in production cars. AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries can cost from $160 to $250 but have more advantages over liquid lead acid batteries.

AGM batteries are basically used in applications where the use of the vehicle is only used now and again as in boats and recreational vehicles. The non use discharge rate is much lower in non use applications than liquid lead acid batteries. The charge rate is much faster also. Some automotive manufacturers are installing AGM batteries as their standard new car power source because of today’s higher vehicle power consumption. BMW right now is known to be the first to install AGM batteries in their 2007 models because of computer functions and braking.

AGM batteries are much better than liquid lead acid batteries but the downside of AGM batteries is you don’t overcharge them. They will charge faster with a normal output alternator up to 14.5 volts and a high output alternator is not needed. When an AGM battery is used in a non use vehicle a solar panel is recommended with a trickle charge. AGM batteries will go bad if charged over 14.5 volts. Most problems with charging AGM’s are in sports vehicles due to the rough environment they are used in. Toss away your old plug in garage battery charger and get a new one that maintains “Voltage” instead of amps. An AGM battery charger will sense a very low voltage in the battery and will start the recharge whereas an old charger does not sense low voltage and will not charge the battery.

These batteries are used in military vehicles that sit in storage for many years and start up after years in storage with no problem. I’ve read stories online where people have left their AGM batteries sitting in their garage for many years and they have retained their full charge. I use AGM batteries in my vehicles and disconnect the negative cable in the one that I don’t use that often anymore and it starts right up when I run the engine occasionally. I’ve read complaints about the AGM failing often but that’s only because of bad practices with them or using them in systems where the charging exceeds the recommended level. You can leave these batteries sitting for long periods of time without charging them but it’s recommended that a solar panel with an extremely low trickle charge be used when not in use. Again I will say from my own experiences is to disconnect the negative cable to the battery when not in use.

The AGM vs Gel and the wet cell? The AGM has thicker plates that tend to not warp that easily during deep discharges and resist sulfur buildup’s that destroy a wet cell battery. Wet cell batteries usually go bad after 4 years if they make it that length of time. The life expectancy of the AGM battery can be up to 10 years if not overcharged. Gel cell batteries are great for sports vehicles but tend to charge slower.

The Winner Is, “Absorbed Glass Mat” if you learn how to take care of them properly.

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Pros and Cons of Wild Animals As Pets

Many people find the idea of ​​having wildlife as pet as exotic and exciting. However, if you want a wild animal as a pet, you should have thorough understanding of the animal and its behavior and needs. The people who have these animals as pets are invariably trained to handle them, but even they will tell how unpredictable these animals can be. You may have read stories in the newspaper of zoo keepers being mauled by their wards.

So, having wild animals as pets has become quite a sensitive and controversial issue. Some people like to highlight the pros, while others just point out the cons. However, both should be weighed equally and only then a decision should be taken to keep a wild animal as a pet.

Here are some pros and cons of wildlife as pets.

Sometimes, conventional pets like dogs and cats can not be kept due to lack of space. In such circumstances, one can keep a wildlife like a hedgehog or gecko as a pet as they do not require that much space. Some wild animals have their own benefits. Like a hedgehog can be used to keep insects and others pests at bay in a house.

Often it has been seen purchasing a wild animal can be cheaper than purchasing a pet that is popular and has a pedigree.

Also, many proponents of wild animals feel that some species have a better chance of survival if they are adopted. It has been seen that the dart frog is facing a problem in the wild as its natural habitat is diminishing. Here, if this animal is adopted, it will have a better chance of survival.

However, there are sufficient cons and disadvantages of owning wild animals as pets. First of all, one has to take into consideration the welfare of the animal. Having a wildlife means giving due consideration to its diet, exercise and social interactions. Often, the animal will not have any interaction with other animals of its own species and will be left to lead a lonely and solitary life. Also, the owners will not be equipped to provide proper care to the animals as they may not be well-versed in these things. Many wild animals look cute and cuddly when they are small. However, as they reach adulthood or sexual maturity, their wild side takes over and the animal becomes aggressive. This is the time many owners abandon their pets or give them away to zoos.

Wild animals are carriers of many diseases that are lethal to humans. For instance, reptiles and amphibians are carriers of salmonella infection and each year thousands of people in the US contract this disease due to their pets. Also, rats imported from Africa are known to carriers of monkey pox. An outbreak of this disease occurred in the US in 2003 when Gambian rats bought in the monkey pox into the country.

Above all, the demand for wildlife as pet is increasing. So, many illegal traders are taking advantage of this demand. Most of the wild animals are captured and then transported in cruel and inhuman manner to reach their owners. In addition, majority of the owners do not know to take care of the animals and this causes them to fall sick or even die.

So, weigh the pros and cons of having wild animals as pets before jumping to adopt one. Make sure that you are properly equipped to handle the care of the animal. Do not adopt one if you have any doubts.

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Preparing Your Car for Winter

The Canadian winter season can considerably influence driving conditions. In situations like this, drivers are more prone to accidents. It’s critical to focus on cautious driving to protect yourself and keep your family. Safe driving also helps minimize your insurance rates while reducing wear and tear on your vehicle.

Here are a few checks that you can perform to ensure that you, your family and your vehicle remain safe over the winter months:

Take your auto in for a tune up before the first snow fall. Having the peace of mind of a well maintained vehicle all year is an excellent idea, but it’s particularly essential during the winter when driving conditions are impaired.

Ensure you have the right oil for your vehicle. In general, thinner oil like 5W30 works better in cold winter conditions than 10W30 or 10W40, which are thicker. Thinner oils circulate easier, which makes lubrication of your engine easier in cold temperatures. To find the right oil for your specific vehicle, check your owner’s manual.

Keep your gas tank full. A full gas tank lowers the chances of running out of gas and being stranded. In addition, it brings down the possibility that your gas lines will freeze up because of condensation or water vapor buildup in extremely icy climates.

Ensure your battery is in great condition. Being stuck in remote areas and being unable to start your car is dangerous. Check that your battery’s connections are corrosion free and for batteries older than 3 years, consider testing its capacity to hold a charge.

Ensure you keep a winter emergency kit in your vehicle. A well thought out kit can be a lifeline in the event that you are stranded in the middle of nowhere, or on a highway. A high-quality winter kit for your car should include:
No less than one warm blanket.
A flashlight.
A shovel, in case you need to dig out of deep snow.
Additional warm garments, including boots, gloves and caps.
A well stocked first aid kit.
A bag of salt or sand to give you extra traction if you get stuck.
Food and drinking water. Foods with high sugar content are excellent choices.
Jumper cables.
A flare.
Spare windshield wipers.
Extra windshield washer fluid.

Test your tire pressure. Because of the colder air, your tire pressure tends to drop a small amount in the winter. Keeping your tires at the maker’s prescribed pressure makes your vehicle simpler to handle, making you more secure on the road and will even improve fuel economy which will save you money!

Check that your anti-freeze mixture is correct. Your coolant should have a 50-50 mix of anti-freeze and water. If you’re uncertain, you can purchase a reasonably priced anti-freeze analyzer at most automotive part stores. Keep your anti-freeze levels above 50% to prevent leaving your engine susceptible to freezing up.

Think about snow tires. If you tend to get heavy snowfall in your area, it might be worth getting snow tires for your vehicle throughout the winter months. The deeper grooves on snow tires provide substantially more traction on snow covered surfaces, which makes them able to stop your vehicle up to 40% more rapidly than all season tires. As well, snow tires are constructed with a specific type of rubber which lets them to preserve their flexibility even in coldest winter conditions.

Consider replacing your windshield wipers if they are not in good condition. Defective windshield wipers can essentially debilitate your capacity to see in wet and icy climate conditions. If your windshield wipers are not making good contact with the windshield and are not clearing it properly, they should be replaced.

Check your brakes. On the off chance that it’s been over six months since your last brake check, have them checked again before the winter driving season. With the dangerous conditions that winter brings, having the capacity to stop quickly is much more critical than in warmer climates.

Performing these checks before the ice and snow can keep your vehicle running safely and easily all winter season. This will give you one less thing to stress over when you’re driving and help to keep your auto insurance premiums low.

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Why Should You Take Care Of Your Car Windows?

The benefits of window glasses in a car are enormous. Up until recently, most cars were built with manual windows that you had to roll up and down with a crank. As nostalgic as they are, there are a few reasons they aren’t found in newer cars.
Power windows in cars offer several advantages, including:

CONTROL

It is true many vehicles have a master control pad on the console or the driver side door. If the kids are playing havoc in the backseat with the windows, you have the power to lock them. If you realize partway through your journey that someone left one of the back windows rolled down, you have the power to roll it back up with a push of a button or switch of a lever. You have complete control over every window in the vehicle, allowing you to focus on getting to your destination.

CONVENIENCE

As we mentioned, rather than having to put all your muscle into cranking up the window, power windows are controlled with a button, switch or lever. This makes it easier not only for the driver, but also for passengers with limited mobility to control his or her window.

SAFETY

Automatic windows have become a standard in today’s vehicles. If you have manual windows and would like to make the switch, it’s possible in almost any vehicle!

Window Damage Can Quickly Spread

When you notice a small crack or chip in your car’s window, it may be tempting to put off your repair services to another day. Over a period of time, the cracks can spread and cover a wide area. To prevent injury during an accident, it is necessary to have the crack repaired as soon as it forms on your window’s surface.

Window Damage Can Pose a Safety Threat

You are at a greater risk of sustaining injuries in times of an accident. The window which has already cracked can move out of its frame and cause injuries to you or your co-passengers in the impact.

Window Damage Can Affect Your Car’s Resale Value

In the event that you decide to sell your car, your vehicle will have a lower resale value if its windows have any signs of cracks or damage. Before you start the car selling process, it is a great idea to have your automotive glass damage repaired by a licensed professional. Taking care of your window damage will allow you to bargain a better price for your vehicle. A team of window repair experts can fix your cracked auto glass in no time.

SathyaNarayana B has done Masters in Applied Geology and he is interested in writing articles on travel, history, pet care, martial arts, medicine and natural remedies.

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7 Reasons How Goa Will Blow Away Your Winter Blues

According to experts, the seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or winter blues affects millions of people around the globe. People of any age may get effected by it. If you have been suffering from winter blues, you are not alone. It’s said that traveling can help you deal with your SAD, and if you happen to be from India, you may get ready to leave for Goa. Here are 7 reasons how Goa will blow away your winter blues.

Amazing Natural Beauty

Goa has incredible natural beauty with a great deal of green forests and beautiful beaches. Some of the must-visit beaches include Baga beach, Anjuna beach, Calangute beach and Candolim beach, just to name a few.

In the majority of shacks, you can get umbrella and beds for free if you love to eat at beach shacks. Aside from this, most of these places offer different types of Indian, continental and seafood. You may also get to South Goa to take your time at the serene beaches.

Old Goa

Old Goa is a beautiful place to visit the popular places, such as churches of Francis of Assisi, St Augistine and Basilica of Bom Jesus, to name a few. In the evening, you have the option to visit Panjim. Old Goa also has some of the finest Casinos of the country. Just be careful, as you don’t want to spend all your money over there.

Electronic Music

If you love Electronic Music, Candolim and Vagator are your places. During the last 7 days of December, you can attend the popular Sunburn and Supersonic events. Usually, visiting Goa will cost you more money during New Year, but it will be worth the money. The crowd during the New Year makes an incredible atmosphere.

North Goa clubs

If you love to party, you may head to the dance clubs of the North Goa. The majority of the clubs are not that expensive. There you can enjoy music late at night. Clubs that are the most popular include Sinq, LPK, Club Cabana and Curlies.

Food Lovers

If you love to eat seafood, Goa is the best place. Throughout the state, you can find a variety of sea food as well as cheap alcohol. You can also eat alcohol Fenny, which is made from coconuts and Kaju.

Adventures

For adventure lovers, Baga beach, Calangute beach and Sequirem beach are your places. On these beaches, you can play a variety of sports, such as water scooters, Para sailing and scuba diving.

Biking and cycling

Throughout Goa, you can hire bikes or cycles at many of the rent shops. If you want, you can hire cheap Royal enfields and 4 wheelers for a couple of days to have fun. You can cruise along the streets of Goa and drink roadside tea or coconut water.

So, if you are having winter blues and would like to go somewhere for a few days, we suggest that you give a go to Goa. This beautiful state has a lot to offer. Hopefully, you will have a great time over there.

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Investing In Quality Auto Repair Services – Is It Worth It?

Auto Repair Services- Why You Should Invest In Quality Auto Repair Services?

Investing in quality auto repair services can help you enjoy a safe and smooth drive. While you can always take a DIY approach for the general car maintenance services such as an oil change, tune-ups or diagnostics but always hire a professional for the complex car problems. If you want to get a better value of your car in future then you should know how to take care of your car.

Choosing A Quality Repair Shop

Always get referrals/recommendations from your friends, relatives, coworkers and other people you trust. Co-workers can help you find a good repair shop in your locality. It is always a good idea to find a good repair shop before you need one. This way you won’t have to pick someone randomly.

Thanks To The Internet!

Look online to learn about the top repair shops operating in your locality. Compare the different quotes to choose the best deal. Ask them to show the license and also check whether it’s an updated license or not.

Consult local consumer protection agency to see if there is any complaint against the repair shop from the old or existing customers. Above all, you should make sure that they can fix the problem easily.

Tips

Have a look at some of the following tips to consider before you start your search for the best repair shop:-

Tip 1

Read The Car Manual

You should always take time to read the manual and understand the specific instructions mentioned in the schedule. A manual has all the necessary information. So you should go through all the instructions carefully before choosing any repair station.

Tip 2

No Quick Decisions

Remember, it’s always a good idea to shop around for the best deal before you meet a breakdown. It will help you to make the right choice because you are not choosing someone randomly. Never ever choose a repair shop/repair mechanic without checking the testimonials. A little bit of research can help you choose the right service provider for your car.

Tip 3

Word Of Mouth

It is always a good idea to get referrals/recommendations from your friends and family. Word of mouth is still considered as one of the best ways to find a reliable professional.

Conclusion

Put a little bit of effort to find quality auto repair services. It will give you many benefits in the long run.

Happy Driving!

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6 Tips Before You Rent a Boat

Sailing a boat is a great experience, especially when you are sailing with your friends or family. It’s true that not everyone can afford to own a boat to have the sailing experience, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do it. If you want to sail a boat but don’t have the money to buy one, you can use another option and rent one. However, you should know a few things before going this route. This will make sure that you will be on the safe side.

Tip #1 Reserve a Boat Ahead of Time

In summer, the demand for boats is higher than in winter. Therefore, you may find it harder to find a boat that hasn’t been taken. To avoid this situation, we suggest that you make the reservation a few weeks earlier. As soon as you have confirmed your vacation dates, you should have a boat reserved.

Tip #2 Consider Your Needs

As a beginner, renting a fast boat won’t be a good idea for you. But if you have a friend with you who knows how to sail a boat, then you may go ahead and rent a fast one. Another thing to keep in mind is that the selection should be based on what you want to use the boat for. For instance, not all types of vessels would be suitable for fishing. For recommendations, you can get in touch with the boat reservationist.

Tip #3 Rent a Well-maintained Boat

The boat you are going to rent must be in good condition. In other words, make sure the boat doesn’t have any defects. But the question is how can you know if the boat is in good working condition? Well, you should take a look at the rental office or building. If the building is well maintained, the boats will also be in good condition and vice versa. Remember: sailing a damaged or defective boat may put your life at risk. So, you should never compromise on this factor.

Tip #4 Use Charts and Maps

The boat you are going to rent should have the latest charts. They will make it easier for you to know the directions to wherever you want to go. Since waterways change from time to time, having the latest maps is highly recommended.

Tip #5 Safety Is of Paramount Importance

The most important thing in our lives is safety. So, make sure that the boat has all the required safety equipment. Also, the law doesn’t allow you to use a boat if it doesn’t meet any safety requirement.

Tip #6 Communication is Important

The boat you are going to rent must have a working on-board radio. In case something goes wrong during sailing, you can use the onboard radio or your cell phone to call for help. Also, don’t forget to save the important numbers in your phone before you board the boat.

So, these are some boat renting tips that you should note down and take into account before renting a good boat.

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Online Shopping for housewarming and weddings in Lebanon and Middle East Where does it stand today?

Why is Lebanese e-commerce so dormant?

The retail sector has evolved drastically over the past decade. Buyers are no longer limited by the physical presence of inventory, nor are they forced to vent into their overheated cars, get stuck in hours of traffic, only to find out that the overcrowded shopping center has run out of their favorite item.

E-commerce has allowed users to purchase anything they would like with the click of a few buttons and a couple of days of delivery time. Lebanon, with its increasing internet and credit card penetration, as well as its tech-savvy and trendy shoppers should be one of the region's first e-commerce adopters! Neverheless, Lebanon still relies very heavy on bricks-and-mortar shopping, while online shopping is only given a second (third, fourth, or fifth) thought! So why has e-commerce in Lebanon and the Middle East lagged behind the rest of the world? Below are the three major reasons why Lebanese e-commerce has been struggling to catch up:

1. Lack of viable payment portals:

The country has two reliably out-dated payment portals that do not integrate with the websites. As such, customers are directed to external links and forced to re-enter their credit card data for every purchase. This is highly impractical and reduces the ease of second purchases.

In addition to the out-dated nature of the payment portals, they command a monopoly on the market and charge exorbitant fees: $ 350- $ 500 initiation fee, 3.5-4.0% transaction fees, as well as $ 35- $ 50 / month "maintenance" costs .

Furthermore, the lack of Paypal and other online payment portals in Lebanon creates an incentive challenge for e-commerce businesses.

"Ease of payment" is ranked as one of the highest conversion factors for e-commerce businesses. Lebanon provides dismal options, and then online businesses struggle to provide dynamic options such as one-click purchasing and Paypal.

2- Lack of practical online shopping:

Most new e-commerce businesses in the Middle East have been set up to cater to the "trendy" and "hip" crowd. They offer flash sales of highly priced designer items, indexing of exclusive local boutique designers, or niche gift items that cater to niche consumers. Furthermore, the "old guard" of e-commerce in Lebanon provide the typical online gift selections flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, and other "one-off" emotional gifts.

With the exception of very few sites, most Lebanese websites have a very basic design with little attention to practicality and detail. Menus pop-up in impractical ways, data entry is challenging, and most products are not searchable.

Examples of these "old-guard" websites are:

Exotica flowers: This site charges high shipping costs, overcharges for its bouquets, and tends to deliver smaller and cheaper bouquets than it promises online (it's happened to me on multiple occasions!). Furthermore, they only deliver flowers! They are one of the highest ranking e-commerce sites in Lebanon at 1.3M globally (www.alexa.com). They also take credit for adopting the online delivery system early, although they have not felt the need to improve due to lack of a sizable competitor.

Buy Lebanese: Colors, fonts, sizes, photos, and boxes are not user-friendly. Neverheless, they rank pretty high on Alexa.com: 2.5M globally. This group takes credit for being one of the early adopters of e-commerce in Lebanon! Hat-tip to their foresight!

961 gifts: not sure about the website name, the design looks basic, but menu items are clear. Their product strategy is broadly based on flowers, perfumes, cosmetics, and brandless accessories – 4.2M global ranking

Examples of the newer "niche consumer" sites are:

Lebelik, Eezmeez, Marka VIP

Some of the newer websites have focused on great design and have achieved relative success in the hip and young markets. Nearheless, away from Marka VIP which is based in Dubai, none have managed to truly achieve a sufficiently large market.

3. Purchasing power is in the expat community

Businesses that focus on the local online purchasing power will struggle in the short term. Hopefully this will change as Lebanon progresses ( hopefully) . However, until then, the buying power for Lebanese e-commerce sites will be coming from Lebanon's expat community seeking to provide gifts to their families and loved ones in Lebanon. This creates a rather challenging market for e-commerce businesses. How do you target your Diaspora? Who is your target consumer? Is the market over-fitted with one-time gifts such as chocolates, flowers, and niche designer items?

How to fill the gap

As such we identified the need for the establishment of a practical well-priced website that provides customers practical and quality options for gifts or personal use. The reasons I believe that such a model will overcome the sector's challenges are:

A- The payment portal technology will inevitably improve, along with the market's trust of online payment

B- The market is arranged with one-off gift items that typically fall under the flowers, chocolates, and traditional gift items. Therefore, competition is minimal

C- The market has seen high quality designer boutiques pop up online, but these only cater to a niche market segmentation. Highlighting the fact that the adoption of online purchases is on the rise

D- There is no website that provides practical useful household gifts with high quality branded items

In summary, there is a gap in well-priced high-quality branded items online in the Middle East and Lebanon. There is a gap in websites that provide quality household items such as Riedel, Nambe, Pip Studio, Bodum, Greenpan, Images D'Orient, Voluspa, as well as many other global brands. Rather than sending flowers, chocolates or highly-priced niche products, the consumer would not want to have an online option for:

A- Housewarming gifts to Lebanon

B- Wedding registries in Lebanon

C- Wedding gifts to Lebanon

D- Lebanese gifts that do not involve cheap chinese products, high-priced niche items, or flowers and chocolates!

Thanks!

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The Seven Wonders of the World

The world around is filled with all kinds of wonders and we can gaze at them only by opening our eyes and our hearts. After all you need to believe in magic to be able to believe it. However, if you’re someone who is a bit on the cynical side, we bring to you a list of the wonders that exist all around the world. If you are a fan of archeology, history or travelling you’re definitely going to enjoy this article. Oh and if you plan to travel after reading this, don’t forget to look into Cathay Asia Airlines.

1. The Great Pyramid of Giza
The crown jewel of Egypt and the only surviving architecture from the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, this pyramid is truly a sight to behold. This pyramid is said to be built as a tomb to the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu. The building is approximately 480 feet tall and was the tallest building in the world for more than 3800 years. This pyramid when built was outlined with a limestone casing which with time got destroyed. Now you can only see the casing near the bottom of the pyramid whereas the top exposes us to the inner lining of the pyramid.

2. Petra, Jordan
Petra is often called the city of rose due to the red colored stones that it is made of. This beautiful hidden city is famous for its architectural grace and the water conduit system. Even though the city is located in Jordan, it was actually discovered by a Swiss explorer in the early 19th century. This place is also said to have structures that are more than 2000 years old.

3. Christ the Redeemer, Rio De Janeiro
This miracle took a total of nine years to be constructed due to the its location on the top of a cliff. This is the third largest statue of Jesus in the world. The raw materials for this statue were actually imported from Sweden. This beautiful statue was actually constructed as a sign of peace, to show that Christ loves everyone.

4. The Great Wall of China
This wall that stretches over 8000 kilometers was built over a period of 2000 years and renovated over time by many different Chinese dynasties. It is said that millions of people died while building the wall and that they’re buried within the Wall’s foundations. The Wall is also famous because it is the only structure on Earth that can be seen from the moon without any aids. Fascinating right? Go check it out yourself!

5. The Colosseum
This fighting ground of the roman gladiators took 8 years to build and was designed by the Roman Poet Virgil. The Colosseum has more than 80 entrances and can house 50,000 people at one time. It receives millions of visitors every year and is therefore the biggest tourist attraction in Rome.

6. The Leaning Tower
This beautiful tower located in Pisa is famous because of the way it inclines with height. The architecture has been constructed in a way that makes it feel tilted. If you’re ever in Italy, this is a must place to go to.

7. Taj Mahal
Constructed by an emperor in the memory of his beloved wife, this palace is a symbol of love for the entire world. The intricate architecture and carving inside this Mahal will make you fall in love with it. And if you don’t believe us, why don’t you go see it yourself? All you have to do is book your ticket using Cathay Asia Airlines.

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Dealing With Conflict in the Workplace

Introduction

Conflict is a major concern in both your personal and working life. If not deal with quickly, tactfully and efficiently conflict could lead to serious confrontation and / or a complete breakdown of relationships. It could even lead to violent and dangerous situations.

A conflict could stem from a minor complaint that was not resolved and left to fester. This could then gradually grow into an insurmountable problem. A conflict can be as innocent as sibling rivalry – arguing over a toy – to a dispute with a customer or colleague over a product, service or procedure to a war between countries in extreme cases.

There will be times during the course of a working life where you will have to deal with complaints and conflicts. Your successful handling of these situations will have a direct bearing on you and your organization's reputation for customer service and its continued success.

What causes conflict.

Conflicts usually occur when people have different ideas and believe they have the superior view point. This is particularly true of conflict in the workplace – between collections and / or management. The issue becomes one of power, of gaining control or of 'being proved right'. To resolve this type of conflict it is necessary to move from the power clash, to one of service and responsibility – to work for the good of the group rather than individuals within it. In resolving a conflict it should be more important to make sure that both parties needs are met rather than winning the argument.

Conflict can also be caused by a lack of communication or by a failure to recognize the needs of another person. Whatever the scenario, the main component in conflict is misunderstanding. These misunderstandings can occur due to differences in age, culture, race or religion. Conflict situations can include customer related issues, misunderstandings or communication barriers or Conflict among work collections.

Conflicts due to customer related issues.

A complaint, no matter how trivial it may sound to you, is legitimate in the eyes of the customer and must be taken seriously. Customers come into your organization to do business. They have a need and they believe (or hope) that you will be able to fulfill that need. They are willing to pay you for your time, effort and service and they expect your full and undivided attention. If they do not receive this attention or a satisfactory product or service, then they are not receiving value for their money and then have every right to complain.

Conflicts arising out of customer related issues could include;

  • Problems or faults with services or products. The customer has not received the quality of service or product that they expected and are unhappy enough about it to complain. A complaint of this nature can be fairly easily resolved if the parties involved are prepared to communicate and compromise.
  • Delays or poor timing of product or service supply. The customer has been kept waiting longer than expected or advised for their product or service and, as in the point above, become upset at the delay. Delays can cause a great deal of inconvenience for customers, particularly if they have made time to be on hand and are then disappointed.
  • Difficult or demanding customers. Some customers are hard to please and are, by nature, very demanding and aggressive. If they are not handled carefully they could, potentially, become threatening.
  • Drug or alcohol related issues. These could include being refused entry or ejection from concessions due to their condition and the risk they represent to other customers or staff.

Conflicts due to misunderstandings or communication barriers.

No two people are exactly alike – not even twins. People have different points of view thought about by the many influences on their lives.

These effects include;

Genetics – the things that we inherit from our parents and over which we have no control. These things might involve the color of our eyes and hair to our health.

Upbringing – which involves the way in which our parents raised us and the values ​​they instilled in us.

Culture and religion – this influences the things that we believe to be true and the customs and traditions we follow

Economics – our view on life can be strongly influenced by our economic situation, whether we are financially comfortable or struggling to make ends meet.

Education – our level of education will also have a large impact on what we think and how we view the world.

The environment – this means the environment in which we operate: our neighborhoods, housing situation, and the people we are surrounded by.

Life experience – involves all the experiences we have had in our lives, the successes and failures, the lessons we have learned from these experiences and the many roles that we have played to date.

All of these things and more go in to making us the individuals we are and our thoughts and feelings about almost everything we come into contact with will be shaped by these influences. So we have our own opinions and points of view on a whole range of things and these sometimes clash with other peoples. These clashes can take the form of a lively but friendly debate but they could just as easily become heated and aggravated and degenerate into shouting matches. The beginnings of conflict.

We can avoid these situations by reaching an understanding between the parties. This can be done by communicating openly and honestly, being willing to listen to the other person's point of view – remembering that the influences that have shaped their beliefs and view points could be very different to yours – but no less valid.

Misunderstandings and communication barriers could occur because;

  • People do not listen to each other with an eye to reaching an understanding
  • People are not prepared to compromise in order to resolve the situation
  • People do not understand cultural differences and are not prepared to make allowances for them.

To resolve a conflict situation steps need to be taken to bring the two points of view closer – to reach a compromise that both parties can accept. Part of good conflict resolution skills is the art of communication and recognizing the barriers to a good two way communications flow. These barriers can include;

  • Not paying attention . Customers or colleges who are trying to communicate with you will feel ignored and frustrated if you allow yourself to become distracted. Not paying attention to them is rude and unprofessional and stops the communication flow. The result of this could be the loss of a customer, a complaint about you to your manager or a loss of respect. Do not allow yourself to be distracted – focus your attention on what is being said and really listen to your customer or colleague. If you must interrupt the conversation to answer the phone, or speak with another staff member, excuse yourself.
  • Not looking at a person . Maintainable reasonable eye contact with the person you are communicating with is very important. It shows you are paying attention and that you are interested. By not looking at the person who is talking to you, you are indicating not only disinterest, but are also making them feel uncomfortable. They may think you are not being honest or trustworthy – you may be trying to hide something from them.
  • Interrupting . Interrupting someone when they are talking is a major barrier to open, two way communication and could easily cause conflict. Once again, you are indicating that you are not interested in what they have to say. Breaking into what they are saying to make your own thoughts known, or worse, to finish their sentences for them is no way to gain a proper understanding of the other persons needs and expectations. Allow them to finish what they are saying and pay attention. If, for some reason, the conversation needs to be wound up, then take control by asking leading or closing questions – that allow for short answers only.
  • Tone of voice. The tone of voice used during a conversation could also start a conflict. Arrogance, demand, anger, whining, disinterest etc. All add a tone to the voice that can cause people to react negatively. When dealing with customers or collections you should keep your tone friendly, calm and pleasant. At the very least, if you do feel annoyed you should try and keep the tone of your voice neutral.
  • Sarcasm . Sarcasm has no place in any conversation between two people and is an open invitation for conflict. There are times, in everyone's working life, when you think "If I get asked one more stupid question, I'll go mad!", But sarcasm in the face of a silly question or remark does nothing but hurt the other person and, Possibly, dent their self esteem. We often forget that not everyone knows everything we do about our industry – in fact most customers know very little about the tourism and hospitality industries. We can forgive our customers or junior collectors, therefore, for asking questions that may have obvious answers – obvious only to someone who knows. Show patience and understanding – it's just as easy and much more pleasant than giving a sarcastic or snide answer.
  • Rudeness . There is never any excuse for rudeness. A respectful and courteous attitude on your part should avoid or defuse any antagonism a person brings with them into your office. Should you find yourself never the less, dealing with a person with whatever you simply can not get along – rudeness is not the solution. Speak to your supervisor or manager and ask for their advice.
  • Cultural differences . Cultural differences can be the source of a great many conflicts. When dealing with people from other countries, other beliefs and so on, it is easy to misunderstand words, gestures and customs. If you want to excel at your profession it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the more prevalent customs of other cultures. On the whole, however, people from all over the world, from all walks of life and from all creeds respond well to respectful and courteous behavior. Do not make fun of customs you do not understand. Treat everyone you deal with, both customers and colleagues, with respect and you should do very well.

Any one of these points could provoke a customer or a college into complaining – which could then, potentially, turn into a conflict. It is a good idea therefore, to remain courteous and polite when dealing with other people.

Signs of potential conflict

A conflict does not happen suddenly. People do not go from calm and cool one moment to angry and aggressive next.

Conflict builds. It may take hours, weeks or even years. However long the process takes, there are always signs that a conflict is building. If these signs are recognized early then steps can be taken to quickly and efficiently resolve the situation before it becomes a major issue.

Early signs of conflict can include (but are not limited to):

  • Aggressive body language: Narrowed eyes – trying to intimidate you Flared nostrils – a sure sign of building anger as the person takes a deep breath, either to control themselves or to go on the attack Stretched muscles in the face and jaw line – tightened in building Anger and aggression Tapping fingers or feet – shows impatience
  • Malicious or negative gossip among collections
  • Difficulty in discussing an issue calmly and rationally
  • Tone of voice – indicating boredom, sarcasm, irritation

These are all signs of irritation, dissatisfaction or impatience. If you recognize any of these signs when dealing with a complaint or a conflict you should endeavor to find out the reasons why the other person is starting to feel impatient or irritated. You can do this by asking relevant questions and listening carefully to their answers. In this way you can reach an understanding of the issue at hand and possibly avoid escalating the situation.

If not recognized and acted upon these signs could then be followed by;

  • Raised voice – speaking rapidly in a loud, high pitched voice – or even shouting
  • Body leaning forward in an effort to intimidate
  • Hand gestures – finger poking and pointing in an aggressive manner.
  • Refusal to cooperate
  • Storming out of a room, slamming doors, drawers or implements

At this point you may already have a conflict and it will take careful handling to bring the situation back under control

Crisis situations

Complaints can escalate into conflict and conflict, if not resolved effectively, could potentially escalate into a crisis.

People wish to be taken seriously. If they are not, or are repeatedly ignored, it can become aggressive and a threat to safety and security of the organization and the people in it. Equally, people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and are not in control of themselves, can present a danger to those around them if they are not handled carefully.

Situations where personal safety of customers or colleges may be threatened and assistance required may involve:

  • Drug or alcohol affected persons
  • People with guns or other weapons
  • Situations where someone has been or may be hurt
  • People who appear to be violent or threatening
  • Situations where customers refuse to leave or to be pacified.

In these cases it is extremely important to:

  • Keep calm yourself and to try and calm the other person.
  • Move them, discreetly, out of the main area of ​​your office or shop
  • Take note of details of the problem for future reference
  • DO NOT argue with a person who is visibly upset or aggressive as this will only compound the situation.
  • Bring in the assistance of relevant management, security and / or entities such as police as soon as possible.

Organizational requirements

You can not simply make a conflict go away by giving the complaining party whatever they want. Resolving a conflict is a deferred balance between reaching an agreement between parties while at the same time staying within the constraints of your organizations requirements and policies.

These constraints may include:

Costs issues. Often, a conflict with a customer will be centred around dissatisfaction with a product or service. If the product or service was actually found to be faulty then the simplest solution to the problem is a straight forward replacement. Sometimes, however, the situation is not as simple and the customer will demand further compensation. In these cases a replacement may not be enough and something extra may need to be done. When determining the amount of compensation, if any, to be offered to the client, there are a few issues to consider. These could include;

  • Customer good will & repeat business. If your organization is dependent on customers coming back again then this is an important consideration.
  • Organisations reputation. A dissatisfied customer will tell many people that they received bad service from an organization who did not meet their needs and this can lead to a loss of business.
  • Direct cost. Compensation to a client can be in the form of cash, additional products or services, or an upgrade to the product or service they have purchased. If compensation is to be of a monetary nature then the cost to the organization must be considered.

Organization policy on refunds or exchange . Most organizations will have policies on giving refunds. Some companies will give money back, others will give credit for products or services they provide. In the tourism industry you must also consider the refund policies of the principals you deal with. For example some advance purchase airline tickets do not allow refunds at all within a given period prior to departure and if the customer does not use the ticket, they have lost their money.

So before agreeing to provide a solution to the customer, you must first determine if it is financially viable to do so and to take the organizations policies and procedures into account.

Resolving conflict situations

When a person has purchased a product or service from your organization and it is not what they expected it to be, or does not perform properly they will feel dissatisfied and disappointed. As a consequence when this person complains that they generally believe that they have a legitimate reason for doing so and they may do so long and heatedly to the first person they come across in your organization. This might be you – even though you had nothing to do with the original sale and have never met the customer. The worst thing you can do is tell them its not your problem.

Take ownership of the issue, regardless of whether you were involved in the problem or not. "Passing the buck" at this point is not going to help matters. The customer approached YOU, so deal with the issue and do not pass them off saying "It's not my problem" or "The lady who handled this is not here now ….". At that particular moment in time the customer does not see you, the individual, they see you, the representative of the company, so it is you, the representative of the company, they expect to help them.

If you were not part of the original transaction where the problem occurred get as much information as you can from the customer to help you determine what to do. For example, you could ask;

  • Exactly what the problem is
  • When & where it occurred
  • How long ago the problem occurred
  • What they paid for the product or service
  • How they see the situation being resolved – this will give you an idea of ​​the person's expectations and how they impact on the organization's policies and procedures.

If the person who was involved in the original transaction is available you should ask them to join the discussion in order to get both sides of the picture. It is very important, however, to keep to the issue at hand and not to let emotions or ego get in the way of finding a solution to the problem; Stay calm, listen to all points of view with an open mind and try to keep the communications process flowing in a positive manner.

Finding a solution to a conflict involves a certain set of skills and techniques. It takes a step by step approach to ensure a positive income for all parties concerned.

Steps in resolving conflict

Finding a solution to a conflict will often become a matter of "give and take" where one party makes a suggestion that may not be entirely acceptable to the other. When this happens you will need to define the issues as seen by all parties and negotiate a mutually acceptable exit. This would normally occur in a logical sequence:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Work out what you want out of the conflict
  3. Brainstorm for options
  4. Evaluate solutions
  5. Decide on solutions

Define the problem

Everyone involved in the conflict needs to agree on a definition of the problem before it can be solved. This could mean describing the problem in terms of each persons needs and understanding of the issue at hand. Questions to consider might include:

  • What is the problem? Is it only my problem? Who else is involved?
  • Can I solve it? Is it worth solving?
  • Is this the real problem or merely a symptom of a larger one?
  • Does it need an immediate solution or can it wait? Is it likely to go away by itself? Can I risk ignoring it?
  • Does the problem have ethical dimensions?
  • What conditions must the solution satisfy?
  • Will the solution affect something that must remain unchanged?
  • Will I need help?

Asking these types of questions will outline what all the issues are from various perspectives giving you a firm foundation for exploring options. Depending on the nature of the problem and what it will take to resolve it, it might in extreme cases even be worth letting the matter go. It is important to keep a customer satisfied, but not at all costs. If a customer is being completely unreasonable and demanding then sometimes it is the better option to lose that customer.

Work out what you want out of the conflict

You also need to develop a clear understanding of the expected outcome. This could be; An agreement on acceptable compensation for faulty products or service a better relationship with the other party a mutually acceptable solution to an ongoing work issue the other person to respect your opinion With firm expectations of what would be an acceptable exit in mind, you can then begin To negotiate with the other party until an agreement has been reached.

Brainstorm for options – When all parties concerned have had the opportunity to explain their feelings on the matter, then all of the issues should be out in the open. At this point you can look at the various options available. There might be a number of solutions to the problem which could work for everyone involved. Do not get stuck on one solution just because it's the first one you find. Be creative about the possibilities available to you, and look for common ground. You can decide from the options later.

Evaluate solutions – In deciding the best result from the options available you should weigh up the pros and cons of each one based on the organizations policies and procedures, cost or budgetary constraints, legal ramifications and mutual benefit. When discussing and evaluating options it is often the case that each party will prefer an option that most closely gives them what they want regardless of its impact on the other party. In these cases you need to negotiate and compromise so that an agreement that both parties are satisfied with can be reached.

The Art of Compromise – Compromise does not mean giving in or losing. It means looking for ways to meet each others needs by making concessions to the other party involved. Compromise involves negotiating what you are, or are not, prepared to do in order to get what you want.

You should be open to good arguments rather than pressure or manipulation from the other party. Be open to reason but closed to threats. In difficult conflicts it might be necessary to bring in another person to mediate. This person may need to be skilled, mutually respected, and not have a personal interest in the outcome.

Decide on a mutually acceptable solution – When all available options have been tabled and considered then you can decide on the best one – the one that keeps both parties happy! Make sure each person takes responsibility for agreeing with the decision. This may take the form of a written agreement or contract, or a letter outlining what was agreed to.

Separate your feelings from the problem . When your emotions get tangled up in the pros and cons of an argument you can not reach the best conclusion. If you take a strong position because of the way you feel, you can not work out the best solution to the problem because your perception of it is controlled by things which are likely to have nothing to do with the problem. It's not about who is right or wrong. Arguing over who fault it is or placing blame will do nothing but increase tension and get in the way of resolving the situation. You should not let your feelings get in the way. Points that can help here include:

  • Act and speak calmly. Arguing with a customer or colleague could result in a full blown confrontation. Pause before making a response to them. This will give you time to collect yourself, to calm any irritation you might feel and also gives you a chance to work out how to phrase your response in the most appropriate way.
  • Try to put yourself in the other person's place; Empathise with them. Use expressions such as "I can understand why you would feel that way" and encourage them to share their point of view.
  • Listen carefully and completely to what they are saying. Hear them out without interrupting them. Show you are interested through a positive listening attitude and ask clarifying questions to make sure you have understood them correctly.
  • Be patient and understanding. Do not interrupt them. Once they have had their say, they will generally be a lot calmer and easier to reason with. The problem can then often be resolved in a civilized manner.
  • At the appropriate time, acknowledge their point of view and ask them to give you the court of now listening to your (organization's) position. For example; "I understand what you are saying, may I now explain our position to you, and then we can see how we could solve the problem together?"

Documentation

Recording accurate information about complaints, conflicts and their outcomes is a very important part of any business. This type of information will show (among other things);

  • Areas of the business that are not working properly
  • Processes and procedures that need to be changed.
  • Things that customer like / or do not like about your products or services
  • Gaps in the supply and demand of your products or services

With this information in hand, an organization can then use it to continuously improve its products, services, image and reputation.

Information can be recorded by way of (but not limited to):

  • Letters (or emails) of complaint. These should always be taken seriously. A written complaint should be answered immediately – even if it is simply to advise the customer what will happen next. An investigation of the complaint should follow and the customer should then be advised of the outcome. A report of the complaint and the outcome should then be sent to the relevant supervisor or manager for any further action needed.
  • Notes taken during a phone call or after a face to face meeting. Once again, it is good business practice to record the details of complaints or discussions about conflicts. These notes can be used for the organization's continuous improvement program but they can also be used as reminders of the conversation should a dispute arise.
  • Formal documentation. These could be; Refund forms Credit notes Contracts or agreement forms

Evaluating conflict situations

It is good business practice to continuously look for ways in which an organization can improve its practices and procedures. One of the main ways an organization can do this is by seeking feedback – comments from customers, staff and other visitors to the organization. Reasons for seeking feedback can include;

  • To ensure customer satisfaction and repeat business
  • To maintain its reputation
  • To learn from errors or mistakes
  • To make improvements to the service or product delivery or quality to improve productivity and efficiency
  • Follow up to see if customer is satisfied in the case of a complaint or conflict

In a matter as important as a complaint or a conflict, feedback can also be taken by way of a phone call, letter or even even a personal visit to the person concerned to ensure that any issue that exists between the conflicting parties has been successfully resolved.

When looking for how effective the solution to a conflict was, some of the questions that should be asked could include:

Why did this situation happen in the first place ? A close examination of the circumances surrounding the matter of conflict from both the customers and the organizations perspective can show up problems in procedure, policy or product or service delivery. Issues to look at could include;

  • Was there a breakdown in communication?
  • Is the service delivery as good as it could be?
  • Are the organization's policies and procedures as effective as they could be?
  • Was the service / product faulty in some way?

Did we resolve it effectively ? This is a very important question from the customers and the organizations point of view.

  • For the customer, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they are satisfied, that they have received value for their money and most importantly that they will probably continue to do business with you.
  • For the organization, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they have retained a customer and kept within organizational guidelines and budgets

When looking at how the problem was resolved:

  • Ask critical questions about the output – was it the best possible option for every one concerned? Did it cost your organization money? Too much money? Was the income worth the cost?
  • Evaluate the customer's reaction to your proposal – were they happy with it? Were they prepared to be reasonable? Will they continue to do business with you?
  • Compare the situation to any previous incidents of this nature. How was it handled last time? Is there a pattern emerging that should be addressed?
  • What can we do to prevent it happening in the future? By looking at how the problem occurred in the first place and how effectively you resolved it you can then take any necessary steps to prevent the same thing happening again. This might mean; A change in policy or procedure A change in a product or service training staff in customer service skills Training staff in conflict and complaint handling

By asking these, and other relevant questions, you can make improvements to the organization. This could lead to greater customer and staff satisfaction which will have a positive impact on the organizations continued success and prosperity.

For more information go to: www.lptraining.com.au

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