Dealing With Conflict: 1

Robert Warren
There simply are days when, no matter how much money or attention is at stake, I should just keep my mouth shut. I have made my mistakes in my 10 years of being in the adult industry and have gotten caught up in the drama and negativity. There are those who hate the sound of my name, those who smile fondly when they hear it, and a few who choose to ignore me altogether simply because they have no need for content companies. They stay within the circle of affiliate programs, in a world all their own, separate from those webmasters who purchase content. The same can be said for the differences between the gay and straight segments of the industry.

I am now 44, and with the best efforts, I can hopefully squeeze in a good 20 to 30 years of high-energy lifestyle before I start winding down and begin to suffer the pains of old age. I can determine how I intend to spend that time. Will it be in conflict or at peace with myself and those around me? I choose to be happy and content. I surround myself with positive people both personally and in my business dealings, keeping negative conflict at a minimum. Yet, working within the adult industry the task of staying positive and around positive people is next to impossible, as I will show you in a few examples:

A friend had a content order all ready to go – links were all set – money discussed and payment information was forwarded. The deal ended abruptly, not because of content or mismanagement, but instead because of prejudice. The caller on the phone had discovered his new sales representative whom he had spoken with countless times on ICQ and on industry chat boards was in fact "black" and cancelled the order stating that he refuses to deal with anyone of color.

Another situation where a well-recognized industry representative who has brought a great deal of attention to a company, was fired and then rehired at half the salary (illegal in the mainstream world, yet tactics similar are used by many companies). Only in the adult industry can someone get away with being fired for not sleeping with the boss, or a woman hired simply because she is "eye candy" and tolerate being sexually harassed by clients at a party.

This mixed with the rivalry between egos and icon's jockeying for board "personality" presence or to be noticed has created a level of conflict that no studies have ever analyzed. The closest we get are threads with titles such as, "How does your GF feel about you being in the industry?" or "How can I tell my family I work in adult?" This mixed with various "owned" threads created to attack a person's personality, ethics, physical appearance, political stance, or simply to gain board status through pissing matches.

Then there are the wife's family members, who in my case refuse to invite me into their home with kids around, or other cases where girlfriends/boyfriends break up simply because one or the other works in the industry. In my case an entire whole side of a family (over 60 people) refused to acknowledge our wedding or attend, calling me a "sexual predator" and "pedophile" for working with adult content.

Over the years companies have risen to stardom while others have been destroyed within weeks by online board gossip and the success or failure of promotions. Reputations made and ruined, bitterness, hatred mixed with deep life-long friendships are left for those who remain.

Conflict is neither good nor bad - it just is. And what it is, is a word derived from the Latin word "conflictus" (the act of striking together), and is defined as:

A) Competitive or opposing action of incompatibles: antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons)

B) Mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands

No matter how you define conflict, the reality is that it's a part of life. What is important is that you recognize and deal with it appropriately. You can either let conflict or the potential for conflict drag you down or you can use it to lift you to new levels of performance. Understanding what conflict is and why it exists helps shape your response.

Conflict generally results from poor communication, disruption in routines, unclear goals or expectations, quests for power, ego massages, differences in value systems, or hidden agendas. It finds its expression in rude, discourteous, and sometimes hostile behavior; selfishness; strident and defensive language; lack of respect; and increased stress.

Working within the adult industry causes conflict on all fronts – from family, personal life and self esteem to our business survival and peer relationships.

What needs to be addressed?

  • Encouraging a healthy perspective of conflict
  • Promoting mutually positive solutions
  • Confronting conflict
  • Communicating effectively to resolve conflict
  • Surviving conflict
  • Adopting behaviors to avoid conflict

Some conflicts appear to be about minor concerns, but in reality involve deeper issues. Yet conflict helps us gain clarity. Certain conflicts are worth investing energy because they teach us. Don't use all your creative energy on minor scrapes disguised as "crisis." We are accountable to one another when stirring up conflict on issues such as business ethics, prejudice and hatred.

So now that you see what it looks like, what do you do with it when it occurs?

In part two, we'll look at some guidelines that will help you deal with conflict.