Back in the days of high school I got to learn a form of kick-boxing in one of my gym classes from the world-class fighter Jeff Joslin. We learned how to punch, how to kick, so great grabs and holds, but also some great moves to get out of various grabs and holds. As a pip-squeak grade nine’er I was pretty amped up that I learned all these awesome ways to defend myself (and in one class!) and was excited to start trying them out. So because I’m so manly, I went home to practice these new moves on someone smaller then me… my sister. I, of course, immediately moved in on the weakest of the pack, my youngest sister, and tried out some of these new power moves. Before long, I had received an elbow blow to my eye and it began to swell. Yep, she gave me a black eye. So much for my fighting career. You can imagine how the next day at school went.
Research in Motion (RIM), currently has a black eye. They learned some new moves that they thought were pretty cool and right away tried them out. Some might say they walked away with a black eye, or possibly even more severely, with a broken leg or even worse. Regardless to say, RIM’s not doing so well right now. Seemingly, every time you read the newspaper there is another article about the death of RIM. Their losing money every quarter, upper-management changes, job losses, product delays, every day it’s something new. People are predicting the end of RIM in one way, shape, or form.
Sure, they still have their advocates (#TeamBlackBerry) and supporters, but they have acquired quite the out-spoken group of dis-believers and haters. It’s not looking good for them, or is it?
RIM has opportunity coming out the yin-yang right now
No, I’m not talking about licensing out patents or selling for a bajillion dollars to some other organization. RIM has conflict, and it could save them, it all depends on how they engage it. How do you know you have haters? Dis-believers? People who don’t really like you? Because they talk about it! They talk about it with their friends, they talk about it on their blog, they talk on Twitter, Facebook, and all those other sites. They are voicing their opinion which is creating a huge opportunity for RIM (or any brand/organization with haters) to open a conversation with them.
Conflict on its own is neither good nor bad, but how we deal with it will determine its outcome.
Conflict is a huge opportunity for companies to make a switch, define their identity, get those creative juices flowing, build community, deepen relationships and sell some serious shit (sorry…I grew up in a farming community). That’s right, you can’t do any of these things very well without beginning to engage with conflict. In a world of humanizing business in the social space, companies have opportunities like never before, and it’s called engagement. They are able to address people’s concerns, have conversations, have a personality and much, much more. One aspect of humanizing brands that companies too often forget is that they are now able to engage with conflict and turn those conflict situations into creative solutions.
It Starts Internally
That next day in high school I made sure to wear a ball cap…really low as to hopefully cover my eye. Yep, you guessed it, it didn’t work. Not long after walking into the building the comments were flying around and I was trying to explain the situation. I tried to make up some stories as to how my eye got to be the way it was, you know the type; “You should see the other guy,” or “I fell 20 feet and only ended up with this,” those kind of macho stories, but people saw right through them. I had a few options; I could run away from it all, I could throw back some fighting words, I could do nothing, or I could carry on, engage with the comments and move forward. Here’s what helped my situation, I started internally. I asked myself some tough questions and had some tough conversations with myself (yes…I talk to myself). Here are 5 things you need to think of internally before you can start engaging externally:
- You need to know who you are – what makes you tick?
- You need to be able to laugh at yourself – You’re not perfect right?
- Know what you’re good at – we’re all good at something
- Know what you suck at – we can’t do everything
- Know what you can improve on – good ‘ol works in progress
When you’re backed into a corner like our friends at RIM, you need to address what’s happening internally before you can begin to address the external. Once you begin that conversation, that will allow you to have the information to answer the questions that are happening from the external world so you can offer the haters explanations, jokes, a transparent conversation, maybe even an apology to those you’ve dropped the ball on (if necessary). Use that conflict to create a conversation and you’ll see the haters as people and be able to alter their negative passion and turn them into being a member of #TeamBlackBerry. By knowing who you are, you can begin to fuel the conversation, address the issues that people are having and use conflict as a part of your brand and marketing strategy.
“Whenever you are in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” – William James
What do you think? Where do you think brands should begin engaging with conflict? Internally or Externally? Why?