by Alan Louis, PhD in Commerce
The Call to Conflict
I was raised in a Christian home – not a perfect home like everyone else – but one that taught the wonderful insights of the Bible, such as Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” The mind-set of the Christian is to seek peace, but most often in business conflict is inevitable.
Conflict is always a bad experience which shapes men and women as they battle with a range of differing emotions. Conflict is unfortunately invasive. As it happens so regularly in the marketplace, conflict starts to affect the physical body as individuals face the battle day after day. It affects the emotions as reputations and friendships are often ruined, and it affects their minds as it touches them to the very core.
Entrepreneurs and business-minded individuals must realise that sooner or later (most likely sooner than the reader would like) a small or big war will be waged against you personally and/or your company. It is therefore imperative that readers collate a conflict manual for themselves, but only to be considered as a defence against the wiles of the enemy.
The Call to Persevere
Conflict situations break some but also make others. Consider this quote from Nelson Mandela “No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise in the end.”
Like a soldier in the trenches, you have a choice regarding what you do with the effects of the many conflicting situations you will experience in the marketplace. You can choose to give up and retreat into a quiet corner of the world, or you can emerge, ready to engage for what is right and true.
I encourage you never to choose the former. Choose love over hatred and forgiveness over resentment or vengeance. Keep focused on keeping possession of your soul with integrity, and therein you will find great peace. But, there are also strategies of conflict which will enable you to overcome.
Big opportunities often come gift-wrapped in unsuspecting packages. What looks small can often act as a stepping stone to something much greater, thereby taking on a domino effect, a chain reaction.
I was once embroiled in a legal battle with my ex-business partners who tried to convince the courts that I was a bad partner and they deserved all of the company. I was continually advised by my attorneys that the matter was sensitive because the damage to reputation that had been inflicted by the case was too severe.
I was convinced that my partners were motivated by greed and knew that their story was false. After two years in the courts, my adversary had to change their attorneys, and when their files were sent by the old attorneys to their new attorneys, the address was incorrectly stated as that of my own attorneys’ firm!
Most courts in different parts of the world work on the principle of full disclosure of all documents, so my attorneys opened this box of files (‘big opportunities often come gift-wrapped in unsuspecting packages’) believing it was part of the information disclosure process, only to find damaging information withheld by my assailants. I won my case, with a letter of apology.
Hold Out Baits to Entice the Enemy
Closely connected to seizing opportunities, as the renowned Chinese military general Sun Tzu in the Art of War exhorts, is to: “Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder and crush him.” He explains this further by noting, “If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.”
This principle illustrates that a good strategy is to surprise, to meet the enemy in a way which he is not expecting. The skill here is to be able to study your enemy with care, to recognise his strengths and weaknesses, and then to respond in a manner which he does not expect. I speak more on this topic in an earlier blog.
Beyond these techniques mentioned, and most effective, is to seek a biblical mind-set of wisdom to deal with conflict. Proverbial truth reminds us that “the Lord gives wisdom… When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil …” Proverbs 2:6-12.
About the Author: Dr Alan Louis is a third generation entrepreneur in a family with a 100-year business history. He devoted his life to Christianity since the age of 7. He was awarded a PhD in Commerce, is an Ironman Triathlete Gold medallist and was inducted in the IBC Hall of Fame for entrepreneurship. Internationally he has served on more than 100 private corporate boards, and has experienced the ups and downs of commerce for 3 decades.