Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Brother Asks: Doing Business with Brothers

A Brother Asks[1]: Coach.  I was brought into some business situations by a Brother who wanted to be paid cash only.  I engaged in these opportunities alongside him in good faith and things worked out because those paying him didn’t require any tracking, insurance or certifications.  Initially, these “cash only” situations were between him and those who were paying him, not me, and they did not affect me, at least, not directly. 
Ultimately, more opportunities opened up and, to take advantage of them, my business operations were required to deal with these other businesses directly.  However, since my business was now doing direct business with these other businesses, my Brother wanted to work for me in these opportunities and he wanted to do so for cash only, as he did before in the other situations.

And there is where the problems started.  These new opportunities required tracked payments, proof of insurance and proof of credentials. I could provide all this for my Brother through my business but he wanted no part of any of these aspects, even though I could provide them to and for him with his cooperation.  I’m still engaged in these opportunities but I can’t include him since he has made it impossible based upon his constraints.  He is quite upset about me not bending to his will on this.
The trouble he is causing now is insane.  He is an officer in my Lodge and has shared his dissatisfaction of the situation with other Lodge Brothers.  Some have approached me with what he is saying about me. It is causing disharmony for all involved.  I’m also finding out that this is not new behavior for him.  He was run out of a previous Lodge for similar activities.  I have attempted repeatedly to contact him but he refuses to respond to any effort I make. 

Coach!  Do you have any insights or suggestions?

My Response: Yes Bro.!  Please stop seeking to reconcile with him. You shall never find peace and satisfaction with this man based upon the game that is being played by him.

From what you wrote, you did him a favor by offering him an opportunity to participate and he didn't want to reciprocate professionally. He chose to not cooperate with you and not to contribute his fare share to assure that he could continue working with you. That reeks of obligation violation.
Furthermore, payment in cash means that he doesn't want to have his income tracked. The fact that he will work for "cash only" tells me that he is involved in an unethical and potentially illegal game financially and wants to consciously and deliberately usurp whatever rules that govern his financial situation.

You are doing things legally, morally and ethically and he expects you to not do this to have him involved. He does not have the right to complain if you offered him an opportunity to work with you under specific conditions that prevent YOU from getting in trouble.
Brother. Stop the game. He is offering you a place in his Drama Triangle to control you and to obtain power over you and over all that will listen to his "story". He is engaged in emotional blackmail and manipulation and that is not what friends or Brothers do to one another.

Don't give it to his game. Accept that he doesn't see that he
  1. is not on the level with you,
  2. not being upright in his dealings with you and others; and
  3. is being immoral in his choices and expectations.
You deserve better and should demand it.
If all that you say is true, you have done NOTHING WRONG, other than allow yourself to feel unnecessary guilt over all this.

But this is not all of it Brother.  Here are some thoughts to consider for your business.
Because of my varied professions ( I wear 4 business hats), I have many opportunities to do business with Brothers; and I do just that -- Business.

I now have engagement letters that establish what is required and expected in any business arrangement. Very few Brothers dishonor me due to me:
  1. being up front with what is expected to be engaged in and delivered from each of us; and
  2. expecting them to do the same.
-- and doing all this IN WRITING!

When I am asked to participate in anything underhanded, no matter how slight, I say no deal and move on.
It's an interesting experience to have a Brother spell out in writing what they expect from me. Most will not spell out anything underhanded because they realize by writing it out, they are admitting that they are asking me to engage in something that is wrong to some degree (yes, punned allusion intended!).   An upright, level and square Brother has no problem writing out what is agreed to and actually prefers it (Think Trestleboard!)

I have many great business deals with my Brothers and I shall continue to do the same as long as I am still working.
That being said, I've had a few dishonoring Brotherly engagements that drove me to use an engagement letter for all opportunities. These dishonoring Brothers are still in debt to me for what I provided to them. The interesting thing is that these Brothers are so bogged down due to other accountabilities that they have been trying to out run that they will likely go to their death never cleaning up the messes that they have been making. The sad aspect is many of them have no clue that they are engaging in life dishonorably. They have no clue that the obligation about wronging, cheating and defrauding others covers not only material (physical, legal, moral or ethical) things, but intellectual, emotional, and spiritual things as well.  

Case in point, by asking you to engage as your Brother desires you to engage, how would you be wronged, cheated or defrauded out of material (physical, legal, moral or ethical), intellectual, emotional, and spiritual values that you hold in high regard?  As a business professional, I see quite a few things immediately and I hope that you do too.
I hope this question puts a different focus on your situation!

The engagement letters I currently have and employ have helped me minimize the influence of unethical and irresponsible Brothers and others on my life and I waste less time with these sorts than ever before. I whole heartedly recommend that you do the same into the future.
Brother, you have had a lot of lessons presented to you in this situation. They were lessons only though. If you wish to learn from them, your behavior must change in line with the lessons presented.   Until your behavior changes along these lines, all you have are lessons.

Of course, you could avoid doing business with your Brothers in general. That behavior change might protect you from those who might do things like this, but it won't protect you from the true problem that you caused by not having good business practices in place when it comes to working with anyone - known or unknown.
However, you could also do business with your good Brothers and others in a way that protects you and them from the situation at hand.

You know what you should do to assure good business into the future. Do it and don't look back.
An afterthought observation and question: 
  1. Although I don't think he realizes it, your Brother did you a great service to you by distancing himself from you as he did.
  2. When you choose to look the other way when a Brother purposely gets paid in cash to avoid tracking, should that not be a fair warning to walk away too?

Brother John S. Nagy

[1] Paraphrased, shortened and clarified for posting purposes.

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