Conflict is when two people or two organizations try to reduce each other’s resources - control, time, money, resources, perhaps even life itself. Each party in the conflict seeks to deprive the other of something valuable. The result of most conflicts is that you expend resources - money, time, emotion - in pursuit of victory or maybe just to stay alive. The decision to engage in a conflict - whether a dispute is over who gets the larger office or whether the district attorney gets to put you in jail - is carefully made.
The conflict checklist: should I fight this fight?
- If you do nothing, will the conflict go away of its own accord? If so, do nothing.
- Can this conflict be avoided without unacceptable setbacks in the pursuit of your goals? If so, avoid it.
- Will someone else take on this conflict if you do not? If so, let the other person fight. Cheer him on.
- Will the benefits of victory in this conflict advance you toward your goals? If not, why take the risks?
- Will the benefits of victory be worth the costs? If not, why pay the cost? Keep what you’ve got.
- Can this conflict be postponed until a time when you will be more certain of victory? If so, postpone it.
If conflict is chosen, then :
- Devise your plan for victory.
- Consider how you will deal with your defeated enemy after her defeat.
- Have a plan ready to deal with defeat, should it come.
- Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the conflict.
- Choose your time.
- Choose your place.
- Defeat your enemy without regret and without mercy. You would have avoided the conflict if she had permitted it, but she did not. Screw her.
But if you lose: (a) assess your situation, (b) plot the most direct path to your goals given the change in your situation
- Move on.
Thoughts on Conflict from Men Who Knew Conflict
The atom bomb was no "great decision." It was merely another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness. - Harry S. Truman is the only man in history to have ordered atomic weapons used against an enemy. Harry did not believe in holding back during war, but no man worked harder for universal, eternal peace than he did.
Carry the battle to them. Don't let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive. And don't ever apologize for anything. -- Harry S. Truman, advising Hubert Humphrey on the 1968 Presidential campaign
The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on. - Ulysses Grant, Civil War General
Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. - Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Britain during World War II.
... we must learn to be equally good at what is short and sharp and what is long and tough. - Churchill, the master of hanging in there when the going got tough
Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little. - Plutarch, ancient Greek biographer of many great warrior generals
Never let the enemy pick the battle site. --George S. Patton
The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his. - George Patton
Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for. - Anonymous
You shouldn’t underestimate an enemy, but it just as fatal to overestimate him. - George S. Patton
The victor will never be asked if he told the truth. - Adolph Hitler, German leader during World War II
Taking Harry Truman’s Advice
“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves... self-discipline with all of them came first.” - Harry Truman was a voracious reader, and the biographies of great men were especially fascinating to him.
Fear, depression, and anxiety are emotional responses to a situation in which you feel that there is no course of action open to you. The human mind evolved from brain cells associated with body movement and motion. A thought must express itself somehow as action. If it cannot, if there is no action you can think of that will make things better, then your body wants to withdraw, to run, to hide. You recoil from the situation instead of dealing with it; or you brace yourself for physical or psychic pain.
Another dysfunctional emotion (for all but a few situations in our modern World) is anger. Anger is the experience of a body chemistry that is readying you for a physical fight. You say and do stupid things when you are angry. This emotion is a vestigial remnant of a time not so long ago in human history. In the last few thousand years, the human race has developed a much better mental state than anger for handling conflict. It is called rational thought. In every case where anger would help you - even including the boxing ring - clear thought would help you more.
You cannot control your situation if you cannot control your self. Controlling your self has nothing to do with “will power” - a fantasy concept from pre-scientific days. It has to do with chemistry. Emotion is another name for changes in brain and body chemistry. Depression, anxiety, fear, and anger are all your experience of your brain’s biochemical state. Depression, anxiety, and fear make you want to avoid the object of your emotion: your job, your spouse, the IRS, your boss, your children, whatever. Anger makes you want to engage in physical or verbal combat in a state of irrational rage.
Clear thinking followed by purposeful action is a better response in any and every situation that may confront you. Put this thought on the back burner of your mind. We will come back to it several times in the book and in these pages.