How to han­dle a dis­pute

Tampa Bay Times - - Opinion -

I write as a former re­tail busi­ness owner and a cur­rent cus­tomer of many re­tail stores. If I have an is­sue with a store, es­pe­cially one as se­ri­ous as the racial pro­fil­ing that St. Pe­ters­burg Deputy Mayor Kanika To­ma­lin re­ported, I would not run off to my com­puter and spread the al­le­ga­tion over so-called so­cial me­dia (of which I be­lieve is nei­ther). In­stead, I would re­quest to speak with the man­ager/owner of the busi­ness. I would ex­plain what took place and then al­low the man­age­ment to make the next move. In most cases, as it would have been in any re­tail store I was ever af­fil­i­ated with, the man­ager would take the em­ployee aside and lis­ten to her ver­sion. In other words, I would take the sit­u­a­tion di­rectly to those who are able to do some­thing about it: ed­u­cate the em­ployee, fire the em­ployee, change store pol­icy, or sim­ply write the in­ci­dent off as a dis­grun­tled shop­per.

I have no dog in this fight. I am fa­mil­iar with nei­ther the store nor the deputy mayor, but I do know that run­ning off to tell your tale on Face­book doesn’t get to the root of the is­sue, whether it was racism or sim­ply a break­down in com­mu­ni­ca­tion. What would Ms. To­ma­lin have done in the days be­fore Face­book?

It could and should have been, ini­tially, han­dled on site with the man­age­ment. The re­sult of that meet­ing would dic­tate the need of any fol­low-up. The short­est path to the res­o­lu­tion was the sim­plest — a one-on-one con­ver­sa­tion among peo­ple.

Philip Pen­rose, Gulf­port

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