Beautiful Planning

Avoiding Conflict on the Long Island Rail Road

Press Release   •   Feb 29, 2016 16:42 EST

New York, New York (February 29th, 2016) – Delays, cancellations, and packed trains are just some of the reasons that commuters of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) are outraged, demanding immediate change. To be heard, riders created the #WeDeserveBetterCampaign to voice their anger with what they are calling ‘unpromising service.’ According to LMSW Laura MacLeod, HR Guru and founder of “From the Inside Out Project®” (www.fromtheinsideoutproject.com), LIRR workers need to be direct and straightforward with commuters in order to minimize conflict and insure clear communication. With angry customers placing blame on workers,LIRR management needs to step up to eliminate a hostile environment and improve conditions for both workers and customers.

“LIRR workers are on the front lines, so they are bound to be hit hard by angry customers.” States Laura MacLeod, founder of From The Inside Out Project® “Workers need to know how to handle demanding questions and rude remarks, and it’s management’s job to provide this information and instruction. With everyone on the same page, stress and conflict for both workers and commuters will be relieved.”

Although the LIRR is trying its best to improve, many of these talks and proposals take time. Commuters just want to get to work or home at their normal time, and have expressed that they are most frustrated by the lack of communication regarding any updates or changes. With no prior notice on the LIRR or MTA twitter page or app, commuters are furious when frequent and unexpected delays occur. These cancellations and delays just minutes before a train is supposed to depart can create enraged customers, and anger towards the LIRR. That’s why the employee facing the customer must use correct communication skills to improve interactions.

In order to resolve conflict, MacLeod stresses that it’s important for workers to speak clearly and stick to the facts. If the train is delayed 20 minutes, employees should state that. Vague statements like ‘The train is coming soon’ provide no real information and only further frustrate customers. If the worker doesn’t know the answer, rather than ‘I don’t know’ (which helps no one and implies ‘I don’t care’), employees should state that they don’t have the information at this time and are working to get it. ‘We will update you as soon as we know.’ This gives the customer clear expectations and demonstrates initiative and concern (‘I do care.’).

“Service problems inevitably cause anger among customers and stress for employees.” continues MacLeod. “Training in communication skills is needed for a better LIRR experience, for both workers and customers. Otherwise, chaos erupts and continued customer complaints have the potential to create a bigger issue down the road.”

For more information on From the Inside Out Project® or Laura MacLeod visit http://fromtheinsideoutproject.com/. To interview MacLeod on her techniques or gain media access to her photos please email eosborn@beautifulplanning.com or call 1.877.841.7244.

About Laura MacLeod

With a background in social work and 2 decades of experience as a union worker, Laura MacLeod created “From The Inside Out Project®,” with all levels of employment in mind to assist in maintaining a harmonious workplace. She is an adjunct professor in graduate studies at the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work and leads training sessions for social work professionals at The Coalition for Behavioral Health and Institute for Community Living in New York City. MacLeod speaks on conflict resolution, problem solving, and listening skills at conferences across the country.