Based on my previous post, am I saying that we should avoid conflict at all cost, capitulating at the first sign of danger?
No, I’m bloody well not.
I’m saying that, before choosing a strategy, you need to define your goals, which depend on the specific situation. Then you can choose the strategy that gives you the best chances of achieving that goal at the least cost.
For instance, in that particular scenario my short-term goal was to remove Huff’n’Puff from my door. My long-term goal was to continue to run my business in a way that maximises my gains and minimises my hassles. There were no additional goals associated to that guy. I didn’t care about teaching him a lesson. I didn’t care about his opinion of me. He’s not a regular feature in my life. I won’t have to deal with his behaviour and attitudes again, because he’s no longer welcome as a customer (and yes, I have that level of control over my life, which is swell.).
Because our “relationship” was strictly short-term, I didn’t feel a need or a responsibility to change him. Though it is upsetting to know that I have to share a planet with him, making him a better person would be all costs and no gains – and if that sounds selfish, it’s because it is. I am prioritising myself. I am not the Jackass Whisperer, and I will not be cannon fodder in a made-up war to make the world a better place one asshole at a time.
All these factors applied because the relationship was short-term. Had he been a regular customer I couldn’t get rid of (as was the case when I worked in Local Government), a member of my social group, or anyhow someone I’d have been forced to interact with again, it would have been a different story. Issues about creating a precedence about how our relationship was going to be run would have then emerged. It’s the difference between a random mugger and a school bully trying to steal your lunch. Because the situation is different, the goals are different, so the strategies need to be different.
He was as disposable to me as a kleenex, so I also genuinely didn’t care about his opinion of me. He might have gone home bragging about what he’d achieved, how he’d “put me in my place”, or any suchlike thing. I cannot begin to express the extent of the toss I do not give about this.
I chose a strategy based on a cost-and-benefit assessment of a selection of options. I chose what achieved the best results for me. Hence, I feel I’ve “won”.
However, had I only had that one strategy, because I was hobbled by lack of skills or permission, I couldn’t have chosen at all. I would have been forced to give in to his request. And although the picture might have looked the same from the outside, my feelings about it would have been completely different.