Dealing with Conflict of Interest with Friends
This blog is based on the You vs You 3.0 panel discussion that took place in Dombivli on 2 October 2013. Prince Scaria, a part of the Rebuilders Group, was one of the panelists who spoke and discussed on the topic ‘Conflict of Interest among friends’.
What is conflict of interest?
A conflict of interest (COI) occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in another. – Wiki.
How can there be Conflict of Interest among friends:
Let me take you through a scenario:
Your friends in college want to go for a Goa tour for 5 days. Everyone is lying at home saying it’s an Industrial Visit. I am sure many of you must have already been in this situation. You are like an important person in the group and everyone is forcing you to go with them. Finally you agree and lie at home, thinking it’s a once in a lifetime tour. Obviously, you ignore the fact that you are missing your Sunday Service where you have responsibilities or the three-days of fasting prayer going on in your church.
You feel a little guilty but as soon as you step into Goa, guilt flies away.
Best thing in Goa is cheap booze. Beer at just Rs.20. A good majority of your friends are getting sloshed and you constantly keep hearing statements such as “Come on man, just one sip, Nothing will happen!” Or “If you are in Goa you have to drink or it’s a waste!” And the best Goa line, “What happens in Goa, stays in Goa, So Chill!”
You agree and take a sip, and then one more, and one more and by the end of the day, you are in love with the buzz.
The Other Gender:
Then at such trips, there always has to be a girl or a boy who is giving you that extra attention and you also like that person. Your best friend says go for it. And with alcohol, you get the confidence of a Tom Cruise or an Angelina Jolie.
Also, at the beach, your eyes go to all the wrong places and soon, you also start using your friend’s lingo. The Ms, the Fs, the Cs etc.
Now combine all these: Late night bike rides with your girl behind you holding you tight in the cold wind. Or sleeping on the beach with beer bottles and getting a ‘solid kick’ as the waves hit your legs. So blissful! You just don’t want it to end. You just don’t want to go back home!
But what really is happening is one after the other you are just losing your battles. The Real Battle!
This was just one example. It could happen even when you want to choose a venue for a birthday party, where you want to go to a normal restaurant but your friends are inviting you to a Disc or a Pub. Any birthday party is more important than your family prayer, right? Then, of course, you have the other big ones which seems embarrassing to be answered in the negative- Drugs & Sex, and the common question that is often asked- “What? You’re still a virgin?”
So you see it’s there everywhere!
As long as you are in this world, you will have friends of this world, and as long as you have friends of this world, you will have conflict of interest with them and within yourself.
Can you give us a few tips in dealing with these conflicts?
I would like to give 5 practical tips that could probably help you with this kind of conflict of interest:
1 – Avoid – Avoiding is the best strategy. I know it’s easier said than done. But if you have an opportunity to avoid a situation, it’s the best thing to do. Had the boy avoided the Goa trip at the start itself, it would have been such a great victory for him. He could have avoided that losing streak. At least for small things you can always just say NO and save yourself. Most of the time conflict of interest arises when you have the power to take a decision. Especially if it’s among Christian friends, I would suggest recuse or disqualify yourself as a judge and avoid a conflict of interest. Just step back.
2 – Disclose – This is a very important practical tip. Most of the conflicts are caused due to lack of disclosure, which leads to misunderstanding. Sometimes you don’t want to disclose who you are or what you believe in. This leads to a lot of conflicts. If the boy had disclosed that he was a believer and he cannot miss his church, or if he had disclosed the situation to his parents, his parents would have taken the right call for him. Now if you cannot disclose who you really are to your group of friends or if you cannot be yourself and act as a believer in your group, then you are probably in the wrong group. You need to think who your friends are and, are they the right friends for you?
Now having a Christian or a good set of friends is not always practically possible. I have about 9 groups of friends. School group, JC group, Church Group, Graduation Group, Locality Group, B-school Group, Office Group, Friends of friends group and a random group of friends. I am sure even you guys have a lot of friends too. But in all probability, you will have one best friend or a very important friend who helps you take the final call. This leads to my next point,
3 – Depend – A best friend is the one who you give a chance to be your best friend by depending on him. That friend will be someone who you know will come to your rescue no matter what time, or what situation you are in. Now herein lies the big question- who do you depend on? Do you over depend on your friend or do you depend on Holy Spirit to guide you and counsel you in every big and small situation. Bible says It’s better to trust in God than to put confidence in man. We all know what the Bible says about the duties of the Holy Spirit. He does it better than your BFF. So, just allow Him to do it.
4 – Word – Stick to the Word Or else emotions will take over. You vs You is all about a battle between your inner you and your outer you. Flesh and the spirit. Outer man works on emotions while inner man will work on the word of God. Its simple logic and no rocket science. Make your inner man stronger by learning the Word of God, talking to Him and building a relationship with Him. By depending on Him, you will take the right calls. No conflict of interest will ever be a conflict.
5 – “We” not “I” – Remember this – “I” is proud, harsh, cruel, stupid, and times, dumb. Philipians 2 talks about the importance of eliminating this “I” attitude and agreeing with others by loving others. It says how Jesus being God, left everything and became a slave. Look at the episode where Jesus washed the disciples feet. Being humble is very very important. You will find so many examples in the Bible where people who were “I” never made it.
Now when I say “We”, I mean you and Jesus. Learn and understand the fact that you carry Jesus. You are not two but one with Christ like husband and wife. Your inner man reflects Jesus. When you think that you are carrying Jesus with you, when that sinks inside of you that I am not a single person. I am not “I” but “We”, then you start thinking not just about you but the One you are carrying within you. Then when you think of going to Goa, you will think if your other half wants that. Then when you think of smoking or drinking, you will think if that would kill my other half. That’s why God smartly used the example of a Husband and a Wife. Cause after marriage every decision you take has to be routed through your wife. Your investment plans, your plans for your kids, even what color paint to use in the bedroom. Or else you will be sleeping on the couch in the hall. Married people can testify that, right? That’s how God should be. Every decision of yours should be routed through Holy Spirit. Ultimately it’s all about him. Start thinking “We”.
With these 5 pointers executed well, you should be able to handle any COI!