Do you need to win every fight? Why must leaders choose not to fight?

conflict, winning a fight

Do you get a kick everytime you win a fight? And do you ever lose?

-by Yoke van Dam

We often become so “winning-obsessed” that we apply this behaviour in the business world. You may start seeing every conflict, or lack of customer service as a competition, with a winner and a loser, and that you simply must win every fight. How damaging can this winning mentality be to your staff, your business and the overall morale at work?

Where did this start?

winning, competitive, fight, the winner takes it all
We are only good enough if we win every fight

As children we were pre-conditioned to believe that we get our worth when we are standing on a podium, holding a trophy or having a medal around our neck, this led us to belief that only when we win, are we good enough.

This dysfunctional belief comes from having a Co-dependent relationship with ourselves. This is when you find your worth only in comparison to others, even in the areas that are completely out of your own control. Thus you are setting yourself up for failure.

 “We learned about life as children and it is necessary to change the way we intellectually view life in order to stop being the victim of the old tapes. By looking at, becoming conscious of, our attitudes, definitions, and perspectives, we can start discerning what works for us and what does not work. We can then start making choices about whether our intellectual view of life is serving us – or if it is setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life to be something which it is not.”

-Robert Burney in Codependence – the Dance of Wounded Souls

Is that winning mentality still serving you as an adult?

When you find yourselves becoming angry, emotional or upset -why is this happening?

fight or flight mode, emotional, angry, fighting
When we don’t see straight, we are in Fight or Flight mode

The moment something clashes with your values or beliefs you get a knee jerk reaction. Your values are things that you treasure, those causes you believe in deeply and those things that you are willing to spend a lot of time and money on. If someone is violating or disrespecting a value or a belief of yours, that’s usually when you could lash out.

How is becoming emotional going to resolve anything?

For instance, have you ever been to a restaurant with a friend, where they are unsatisfied with the steak or the service, and start raising their voice thus attracting the wrong kind of attention?

embarrassed, shy, shame
Are you ashamed when others start shouting?

Did you want to be in their company any longer, or did you rather want to run to the bathroom?

Speaking loudly or shouting-might get you the free meal or the drink, or the “win”, but what does it do to the atmosphere between friends, to the rest of the restaurant, and how does your friends see you? As a person asking for better service or simply as a bully?

What happens at your office?

Do people speak as adults, or do they back track and bully each other- as if they are still in school?

So many people believe, that the person who shouts the loudest wins. I disagree with this.

When you are upset ask yourself the following questions:

  1. I am not feeling great right now, what value or belief is being violated right now?
  2. What don’t I like about this?
  3. How can I communicate this to the other person?
  4. Is there a way that we can compromise or meet each other half-way?
  5. Do they necessarily know exactly why I am upset- can I communicate this to them in a calm way, so that they can do things differently next time?

Watch this Mini-training session on Conflict Resolution:

Mini training session on Conflict Resolution by Yoke van Dam

As a leader in business you have a responsibility to move away from a toxic work environment. To not have a culture where people shout at each other. Where people can feel safe, and openly debate as adults, or calmly talk things through.

Above all, you have the power to control your own emotions and create an environment, where people want to work with you.

Don’t allow the “tapes” of the past to dictate your behaviour today, it’s time to take control of your own behaviour and become the leader you would follow.

leadership, family, safe, rapport
Photo by Etienne van Dam

We offer Emotional Intelligence training for leaders and teams; you are more than welcome to call us to set up a meeting to discuss your team’s needs with us. Contact us at yokevandam@y-connect.biz

This article was written by Yoke van Dam


  1. Trevor Ketler

    Thank you Yoke, very informative.

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