“Get out of my face!”
That was the first thing I heard through my open window this past Monday morning, and I was instantly confused. Naturally, I stuck my head outside to see what the commotion was all about. I caught the show as it was escalating, with two men yelling and giving each other the preemptive shoves that usually lead to something else. Looking around, I saw the heads of other bystanders popping out of random windows—all of them sharing the same confused expression I myself must have been exuding. The conflict subsided, and the men thankfully parted before anyone took the first swing. It was at this point I told myself, “What am I doing? Now I’m going to be late for work!”
As I was getting ready, I had the epiphany in the shower (like many of us do) of just how disruptive violence and aggression can be. Sure, the parties involved had their respective reasons for their actions. Yet, a simple conflict between two had now influenced the collective third party of head popping bystanders who were (most likely) spending time thinking about the issue rather than focusing on their own tasks at hand.
In the entrepreneurial scene, it’s very common to meet very passionate people. There are people who become so engrossed in their work, that if anyone tries to mess with their projects, (which is quite common in business), chances are that emotions can run high. When this happens, the aggression transcends the fighting parties, and impacts the collective. In order to preserve the workplace, it’s important that during these times we remain, as Martin Bjergegaard has aptly named it, a Business Pacifist.
Some individuals (I’m assuming the two men I mentioned earlier are prime examples) have a very low threshold, and are likely to snap just by giving them the wrong look. It’s the same in business—except if you snap here, it can cost dearly! Maintaining the perspective of the Business Pacifist will help you foster a peace within your self, your organisation, and gain more success and happiness.
Are you curious to learn how to become a Business Pacifist? Here are 3 ways to help you on your way to a peaceful and successful business practice:
Realise your potential Loses
Everybody has a different breaking point. Depending on the level of the attack, at some point we all feel a need to protect ourselves. The important thing to realise here is that you always have a choice. When you explicitly decide to act head on, either offensively or defensively, you are running a risk of incredible losses. Lawyer fees, wasted time, shifts in work culture, etc.—all of these can cost your company dearly. Before you act, always take an objective step back and see if it truly is worth the potential loss.
Allocate your resources
Legal action can be a tempting option. Martin explains a scenario in his book Winning Without Losing where a former business partner began to recruit people from Martin’s staff, mimicked intellectual property, so that his new company could compete directly against Martin and his team.
Beyond the personal disappointment of having a friend turn on him, Martin and his team knew that they could easily win a lawsuit, as the former partner was overtly breaking the rules of his contract. Yet, instead of letting negative energy fester during an extended legal situation, they decided to forgive the man and allocate their would-be legal costs on something more productive: their own company. Bettering their own company made them stronger, as well as boosted team morale. They eventually made a multimillion exit with their company, while their competitor never really got his venture off the ground.
Always try to solve conflict in person
In a previous blog, I’ve discussed the importance of refraining from impulsively sending angry emails. The fallout and complications that can result from a misinterpreted email can cost a company time and energy, as well as be detrimental to the work culture. When the option is available, always reach out in person. Attempt to objectively understand both the subjective points of view, and work through the issue.
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I understand why people may not be 100% supportive of the Pacifist mentality. For many, it is very important to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. In a business setting however, it can be argued that conflicts and arguments are a waste energy and time. Sometimes it’s just better to focus on building a positive work culture. Build a team with a morale that wants to work on creating the best at what they do, compared to being better than competitors. Let them focus on the task at hand, rather than get them riled up and distracted. The success you feel from cultivating the best team and company, and product, will always feel better than always fighting to beat out competition.