This talk was delivered by Beng Pelaez, BCBP Cagayan de Oro, during the Ladies Breakout Forum at the NAC Davao, April 24, 2010. It is posted in this website due to the requests of many BCBP sisters, both those who attended and those who were unable to attend.

Good morning, ladies!

My topic this morning is about dealing with conflicts in the market place, particularly about conflicts in a family business. No one is exempt from such conflicts in the market place; they are a regular part of human life. Thus, we need to deal with them or at least avoid them in a good Christian way.

The main approach is to rationally discuss the matter with love and understanding rather than complaining about the person we are at odds with, criticizing them to others, putting pressure on them, making them feel guilty for other incidents, making snide remarks about them, especially behind their back.

My presentation this morning is a personal Case Study about our family business. I was the manager of the Pelaez family beach resort for almost 4 years. Since the start, a few relatives criticized and talked behind my back saying that I was not a professional manager, that I was acting like an owner and so forth. One of the cousins-in-law even went as far as conniving with an employee who executed a notarized manifesto containing all their fabricated accusations. The Manifesto stated that I was a gambler, a drunkard, a good-for-nothing manager, I was stealing … all 27 counts!

I was devastated when Bong and I got hold of a copy from the Chairman of the Board. My first reaction was JIHAD, the non-Christian revenge “an eye for an eye”. But inwardly I knew this was wrong and against the Christian principles we had learned in the BCBP. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:39: “But I tell you this: do not oppose evil with evil; if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer the other.”

I prayed to God to give me the courage, patience, love and understanding in facing this problem. His answer was: There is no end to this vicious cycle. The only way for it to stop is to absorb it.

I resigned as manager. We talked about the Manifesto in the Board. The accusing employee even blackmailed the Chairman of the Board with the threat that he would report the company to the BIR for not paying the right taxes and that he would file a complaint with the DOLE for not giving right wages. Lies and more lies!

The Board was intimidated and was not able to resolve the issue. Bong and I proceeded in filing a libel case against that employee. He went absent without leave and hid for 2-1/2 years until the warrant of arrest officer caught up with him. In the mediation board, the employee cried and apologized and asked for forgiveness. Now, sisters, I ask you, would you have forgiven him? Well, I did forgive him and even lowered the Php 200,000 damages to Php 50,000, payable pa in 5 months installment.

When conflicts occur, the first thing to do is try to figure it out, to find out the root of the problem. We need to ask ourselves why is there a conflict here:
a. Is it a matter of right or wrong?
b. Is it because of differing expectations?
c. Is it because of personality differences?

a) If it is a matter of right or wrong:

In Romans 12:18 we are told to live at peace with all. Another version says: “Be a woman of peace, seeking good relationships, avoiding quarrelling.”

In my particular case, the conflict was initiated by the wife of the Chairman of the Board who was interested in my position as Manager. Scripture tells us that anything that is not in the light will always come out. So, the Chairman of the Board was replaced by his brothers for not being able to discipline his wife who happened to be only an in-law. And now the wife is banned from entering the resort.

We should take hostility to our being Christians meekly AND wisely. We should be firm and correct false things that are said. We should be “meek as a lamb BUT wise as a serpent”. My meekness was displayed when I did not box the employee and the Chairman’s wife! My being wise was in filing the case in the courts and letting the wheel of justice take its course.

b) If it is a conflict because of differing expectations:

In this story of mine, two relatives of Bong residing in the area envied my involvement in the Company from conceptualization to the implementation of the project. I was even given voting rights for four families out of eight families when the beach was only a family affair. That could probably be one reason why I was the subject of much gossip.

This kind of conflict can be avoided by making clear agreements and documenting them. In other words, get everything in writing. Recently the Board passed a resolution stating: “NO HIRING OF RELATIVES FOR POSITION OF MANAGER” in order to avoid future conflict among the relatives.

But when I became manager there were no company policies with regard to employees and stockholders. So I was running the daily resort operation according to what I thought was right. Unfortunately others thought differently. So I wrote down all my recommendations to the board for approval. Of course, it helps that my immediate Boss is my husband Bong.

The Company has also adopted an Employees Code of Discipline Manual, based on 31 best practices and core values patterned after the BCBP Commitment Card. One example is: Code of Discipline No 31: The employee does not gossip about his/her co-worker(s) and stockholders. First offense is a written warning; second offense merits two weeks suspension; with the third offense, the offender is dismissed.

c) If the conflict is because of personality differences:

This is a common challenge, one that is perhaps God-given for fallen people to help them change (Proverbs 27:17). When we get into this kind of conflict, we are often reacting to something about ourselves. For example: if you always like to be right, you will get turned off by people who always like to be right also.

Let me talk for a moment about how I am generally perceived as a person. My personality is “Malakas ang dating. Mayabang.” These traits may be due to my over-confidence and being a former international stewardess for 8 years. In my case study, some of the Company owners were born and are still residing in that place, a 4th class municipality. Manila people and particularly in-laws (me!) are a threat to their comfort zone. I had to adjust to the culture instead of them adjusting to me. I had to learn the dialect and be sensitive to the norms that are not BCBP, such as “say maybe when you mean ‘no’”.

Lastly, we should be thankful for relationship difficulties in the light of Romans 8:28: We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him, whom he has called according to his plan.

We need to remember that whatever the conflict in our working place is, how we handle the conflict is almost always more important than what the resolution is.

God is seeking to make us people of character. And often the Lord helps us grow by allowing us to go through some difficulty. One of the most fruitful difficulties for us to go through is the conflict in our relationships with other people. This experience will be fruitful, that is, if we end up handling these difficulties well.

The bottom line here is for us to begin looking at our difficulties and conflicts as challenges for growth, rather than obstacles or trials. When we have the Lord on our side, nothing is impossible…and we will become better and stronger Christians.

Thank you and good morning.

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