Don`t Let the Tail Wag the Dog: Lifehacks for Business Conflicts

17/ 08/ 2017

Author: Oleksii Kupriienko, CEO & Commander of the Company “Underdog The UnLawyers”

Conflict is a fact of human existence. Many people perceive history as an endless story of conflict and struggle, but we live at a time when the most obvious and prevalent are, nevertheless, conflicts in the business world.

It so happened that, getting into conflict situations, business appeals for help and protection, first, to the main monopolist in the sphere of their settlement – a lawyer, rationally assuming that he will convince the state machine in that we are right and will call an opponent to the answer masterfully using all possible legal levers.

However, is this method of protection effective?

Let’s take a look at the truth (look more closely at the numbers and official statistics):

  • during 2016, the overall evaluation of property conflicts and collecting increased by 2 times and reached 382 billion UAH, and this dynamic does not stop its growth, but only progresses
  • during 2016, according to official statistics, courts of cassation received 139.7 thousand court cases and materials;
  • given the shortage of judges in the courts, there were 50 to 100 cases per month for each of them;
  • after the abolition of specialized cassation courts and the creation of a single cassation instance – the Supreme Court of Ukraine, it will include a significantly smaller number of judges, and, accordingly, the burden on judges will be doubled at least.

Not so long ago, the Head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine predicted that at the time of its functioning in a new format, the court will receive about 50 thousand cases, but if we analyze the official statistics, we can state that these figures, in fact, are much larger (about 60-70 thousand cases), and we should add here still the organizational difficulties that cannot be avoided in the newly created structure. It is not difficult to guess that all this will lead to the fact that the cases in the courts will be considered for years.

On this thread from the disappointing statistics, as well, adds the fact of total corruption, which until now, unfortunately, is difficult to deny (Ukraine still ranks 142 out of 174 in the ranking of countries on the level of corruption).

So, will the state help you in resolving the conflict? We do not think so. The more realistic is the option in which a bureaucratic machine, in the hands of your unfair opponent, will turn against you as the most powerful weapon, or simply brush it off your problems, putting them off for a long period of endless calls and paperwork.

So, what to do if you do not have time to wait, and tomorrow the fate of your business will be solved and the outcome of the court battles is put in dependence on the mood of the system, or those who use it?

We are deeply convinced that we should not prove our rightness, justify ourselves, rely on the authorities – we should attack our enemy and not put our position in dependence on the strength of the system.

For example, Robert Aumann (an Israeli mathematician, winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics “For Enhancing Understanding of the Problems of Conflict and Cooperation through Analysis in the Game Theory”) in his Nobel lecture entitled “War and Peace” proposed that long-term military conflicts be considered as repetitive Games: he proved that in such games, compromising politics generates hopes for new concessions and objectively leads to new wars. Hence, he made a pragmatic conclusion that an arms race that creates a credible threat of war is more effective in preventing them. Thus, according to the concept of Aumann, if you want peace, you must demonstratively prepare for war. If there is an obvious aggressor, the pacifist aspirations of the second party of the conflict are more likely to lead to war than its readiness for open confrontation.

It is important to remember that by demonstrating to your opponent not just the readiness to attack in return, but also the presence of trump cards in your sleeve (that obviously will not do him good), you will let him know that in case of absence of a constructive dialogue, the conflict will drag on for a longer period, and, in a consequence, will change the status quo of the aggressor by creating additional problems for him, which are incomparable in scale with the problems that caused the conflict.

Thereafter, one of the most important strategic element of the conflict is information (the trump card in the sleeve). After all, it allows you to identify the most vulnerable points of the enemy, and create the maximum number of threats not only on the main front, but also where the enemy does not expect.

The arrival of a new era – the era of information, radically changes the economic and social aspects of society. Such changes directly affect on our opportunities in the sphere of conflicts, because the information becomes available, and most of it can be picked up from open sources, having learned what seems to be reliably hidden: values, aspirations and fears of your adversary to know exactly where to strike and equalize forces.

This is what we use in practice, applying tools that allow us to maximally effectively lead the aggressor side to constructive resolution of the dispute:

– getting a maximum of information from the open sources, seeing in it what seems to be reliably hidden;
– not giving information to get lost in the information noise, constantly broadcasting to the enemy the inevitability of his loss;
– attacking the opponent beyond the intersection with our interests and the subject of the conflict.

The strategy and tactics in the conflict are an expression of the goals and tasks of its sides, as well as ways to achieve and solve them, considering the use of all the enemy’s weak points. Therefore, getting into the conflict, it is extremely important to learn to go beyond the perimeter of the problem: to use alternative tools to not depend on the changeable mood of the system and not let your opponent foresee your actions.

To understand how this works, at our practical seminar we will be the real strategists and, together:

  • decompose the loud conflicts into their components;
  • identify the most vulnerable points of the opponent in the conflict;
  • develop an effective strategy to counter the aggressor, which will lead to victory in the conflict.

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