Sun | Dec 15, 2019

Trevor E. S. Smith | Raise Your Price, Please! The Underbelly Of Conflict

Published:Sunday | November 10, 2019 | 12:06 AM

We ask for discounts. But do we ask to pay according to the value we place on an item?


The issue of value is inspired by the reports of deaths related to conflict over things – soap, phone, car, property.

A major source of interpersonal conflict is disputes over things.

What is the real value that we place on things?


Let’s reflect on possible reactions to two scenarios.

You are walking with your smartphone and it slips out of your hand into a manhole and cannot be retrieved. You rue your misfortune and move on.

In the second scenario, someone bounces the phone out of your hand into the manhole.

What is your reaction then?

Can you see the possibility of a confrontation?

Can you picture the argument moving outside of the realm of the smartphone to a clash of personalities with potentially dire consequences?


The phone is bounced into the manhole.

If he does not stop, do you run after him and accost him?

If so, have you thought through how that might play out?

If he stops, do you demand full compensation while making it clear that it is his carelessness that has ended up with your priceless phone being in the manhole?

Does your approach matter?

Is it something that you should think through before engaging the individual?

Should you reflect on the value of what is at stake at this point? Does moving on enter your mind?


You are aware that you bounced the smartphone into the manhole.

Do you stop or do you run?

If you run, what are the implications for your conscience and for the risk that you will be chased and caught?

If you run and are caught, how will you respond when confronted?

Does your response have implications? Should you reflect on them before engaging the owner of the phone?

Suppose you chose to stop, what will be your position?

You apologise and explain that it was an accident. What if the other party waves off your apology and demands compensation?

What are the potential implications of your response?

How do some of those implications relate to the value of a smartphone?


This group drives the escalation of conflicts. A changed mindset can save lives. Why not encourage a peaceful resolution of the matter?


We don’t drive a vehicle without first engaging the gearbox. Let us engage our minds before we launch into action.

When we fly off into thoughtless responses, we are displaying animal instinct. As humans, we need to function at a higher level.

Transformation requires time and effort. However, we can learn to control our responses. We can learn self-control by applying certain techniques.

We insist that children master tables appropriate to their grade level. Are we as insistent on them displaying mastery over their behaviour and ability to manage conflict?


The scourge of violence that plagues society is a function of learned behaviour. We learn that violence is the way to resolve conflict. Violence is so prevalent that it almost appears as normal behaviour.

Behaviour that is learned can be replaced by healthy, thoughtful habits.

We can learn to remove violence as an option that is available to us. Be clear that no matter what, I cannot resort to violence. Teach this at an early age.

Relate the cost of injury and death to the real value of the stuff.

Is my brother’s life worth more than a bar of soap?

Is a young lady’s life worth more than a smartphone?

What is the cost of imprisonment?


We allow anger to rage because we don’t understand it.

Anger and rational thinking do not occupy the same place. When we are in the grip of anger, we lose control.

That is why we have to learn to stop before anger takes over. Being sorry after does not help.

We feel it in our bodies when we are about to get angry. That is the time to do things like breathing deeply and adjusting our body position. Redirect how we are thinking before we lose control.

Proverbs 16:32 – Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper, than one who takes a city. (NIV)


Ensure that your 2020 goals are achieved. Talk to us about how we can help your team manage productivity-sapping conflict.

- Trevor E. S. Smith, Success with People Academy. We guide the development of high-performance Teams. We are interpersonal relations, group dynamics and performance-enhancement specialists. We provide learning and productivity-enhancement technology solutions. We offer behavioural assessments from Extended DISC on the revolutionary FinxS Platform and e-Competency Frameworks in our SPIKE solution. Email: