another publication by IMAGE asia

Hughes Krupica: Information as a weapon

  Bangkok / Boat Lagoon

Information is one of the most valuable and dangerous resources on our planet. Misunderstandings, lack of information, abuse and manipulation of information and false information are significant contributors to escalation of petty disputes, and at an extreme but with historical frequency, the cause of wars and atrocities. Information abusers are therefore the dangerous perpetrators causing disputes and wreaking havoc in most places they inhabit or frequent. The way in which ‘committee’ or societal group members manage information is therefore also crucial to balance in life and dispute management.

If ever considering how litigation and arbitration can be supplementary tools of last resort to resolve disputes, it is worth first contextualizing beyond traditional mundane legal musings, the cause of hostility, friction, misalignment, abuse of trust, violation of rights, failures of duties and commercial misdemeanours or dishonesty.

In order to reduce the likelihood of dispute escalation, and to mitigate risk of, and damage caused by, disputes, a focus on the quality and nature of information relating to the dispute can be of invaluable assistance. Strategies can be employed to counter bad or abusive information and the often offensive behaviour of information abusers.

 

Committees as a conduit of abuse

Information can strongly influence potential outcomes. I will contextualise this proposition, problem and potential solutions in an everyday ‘committee’ style experience with which many readers will be familiar in boardrooms, on foundation or charity committees, in real estate asset management committees and on international government organization committees. I have referred to all of these widely and generically as ‘committees’ for simplicity. Committees can include loosely formed social media groups – LinkedIn, WeChat, WhatsApp, Line and the like, and may also include a ‘Committee of Bullies’ at a school or institution attempting to bully others – a now common issue in the advent of a manifestation of socially offensive behaviour through tech.

 

Abusers are apparent & recognisable in nature & humanity

The strength of my views on this subject goes beyond ‘committees’ and day-to-day outcomes. Genocide, mental and physical torture and persecution of others is a close relative of information abuse and abusers, which I state as a deliberate provocation of thought to those that are naturally aggressive, hostile, or passively aggressive and bloody minded as to how far such behaviour can develop to damage or destroy lives, and as a reminder of support to those that have to deal with such people in their daily lives. Any information abusers reading this, please reflect on your actions and improve yourself and the world you occupy. Any information abuse victims or observers, take comfort that you are not alone.

 

Information v the truth

Perhaps amazingly, I have participated in committees which, at their very core, are supposed to herald the virtues of globally resolving disputes, and yet certain participants (fortunately not the majority) are clearly some of the worst culprits of dispute instigators and information abuse I have met thus far, at my still-learning period of middle age.

In professional practice, I also often see minutes of board meetings, shareholder meetings, committee meetings and ad hoc communications which tell a sorry tale of hostility and misunderstanding. When analysing these circumstances deeply, it becomes apparent that at the heart of the issues is a construct or mis-construct of information. I am being deliberately careful to separate information from the word ‘truth’. Many people’s version of truth is mixed up in their cognitive bias, and I have met people who have studied cognitive bias who appear to be extreme in their opinions, make snap knee-jerk judgements and have blinded themselves with the assumption that having studied bias, they are somehow free of it. Information ignorance is also, of course, dangerous even if inadvertent.

 

Information abuser information strategies

Bad actors will typically to try to acquire information first, in order to exploit the first-mover advantage. If they can’t obtain the information first they will attack the presenter of the information as soon as possible post-presentation. They will then strategise with other bad actors how to present or re-present the information, and will then employ a move or series of moves for self-interested gain. To counter these strategies, good-faith actors can also obtain information, share the source transparently, ensure its presentation is valid and endorsed, and highlight the absence of exploitative gain to inspire confidence and trust in the recipients. This is the classic information symmetry v. asymmetry issue, which actually governs most issues in life, including stock market prediction and investor behaviour as well as close family relationships and friendships. This issue can be mitigated by a combination of strategies.

Committees lend themselves to traditional problems of hierarchy, group coordination problems illustrated by Nash Equilibrium and Prisoner’s Dilemma conundrums, and dysfunctionality due to non-cooperative participants, apathy, passive or active hostility. Committee structures may also encourage status competitions through self-interest, which then separates the objective of the ‘Committee (Principal)’ from the ‘Committee Members (Agents)’. This separation of interests is a classic agency issue.

 

Potential countermeasures to information abusers

There are strategies that may be employed to address these:

  • Keep all committee members well informed, but obtain good information first to avoid information ‘debates’ prior to validation and circulation.
  • Identify the bad actors in the committee and avoid entering into contrived hostility designed to undermine authority. React calmly and logically to challenges, tell the truth, and let other committee members see, recognize and respect the mature rational approach.
  • If a bad actor makes a good point, commend them for it. Avoid pettiness. Never sink to a lower level than you generally operate and if you do rise back up quickly. Place any knee jerk emails in your trash folder and empty the bin regularly.
  • If you lead a Committee, balance your leadership with allowing negative energy to ‘play out’. If an argument develops, observe it, allow the energy to dissipate, and subsequently make decisions or moves for the greater good.
  • Empathise with the information abusers even if you personally dislike them. Information abusers may have been abused themselves, they may suffer deep personal insecurity, they may have personal problems and may be undergoing deep stress, which is manifesting itself even on a long-term basis in their behaviour. Humanise people, remember they are people, give deep discounts, be as kind as you can even if others are not, and your virtue will be observed by others who are information enlightened.
  • Keep a record of decisions, information provided, its source to validate quality, and where necessary (without over-administration), record responses. Data is easier to manage with technological tracking systems. For example, if each time you send an email, an information abuser attempts to attack, undermine or deconstruct the information, the frequency and origin of the attack can now easily be monitored, tracked and presented to an information abuser and in any dispute resolution process.
  • To preserve your own sense of mental wellbeing, stay as fit and healthy as you are able within your own physical and mental limitations; remember the relative value of matters outside of a committee that you care about, so that you can cope with the challenges that inevitably will arise. If any matter ever crosses a boundary into a long term or too acute impact on your wellbeing or family life, extract yourself from the situation. However, don’t quit if that isn’t the case!
  • Make sure the bad actors become, as much as they are able to recognize beyond cognitive bias and empathetic blindness, aware of your resolve and qualities.

 

Contextualising information abuse & committees in the wider problems of society

Committees are an inherent and wide-ranging part of society. Adopting a wide view of committees, we can see them in the public/governmental sectors making life-changing decisions about health, education, finance and regulation of society. In the private sector, committees may govern business, charity, or an interplay between public and private sector participants and stakeholders.

When a committee is taken over or attacked by information abusers, the ramifications for society can be unfortunately far more damaging than the information abuser intended, or perhaps just as intended. Information abusers can spread lies and manipulate information about religion, the extent of discrimination, plant nationalism in a bed of superficial displays of loyalty to their ‘nations’ actually underpinned by hate, greed and selfishness. Committees can be formed formally or informally through loose networks and information abusers to persecute Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, persons of different gender, persons of colour and persons who are white, different orientation or socio-economic backgrounds, minorities, majorities, Democrats, Republicans, lawmakers, lawyers, foreigners, immigrants, expatriates, visitors, children, vulnerable people, conservatives, liberals, elites and the poor. The list is obviously non-exhaustive. Information abusers creating committees, sub-committees or information abuse webs are fundamentally undermining peace. Merchants of peace must do all they can to eliminate and resolve unrest and promote harmony.

Next time you find yourself on a committee, do your best, remember some of these strategies, formulate your own and try to conduct yourself with a mindset of exemplary behaviour in the face of adversity and information abusers; be kind and remember that disputes avoided represent a hidden ‘saving’ in the operations of society.

Law cannot be viewed in isolation from sociology, science, politics and other studies and real life situations.


By Desmond Hughes, Senior Partner of Hughes Krupica.
Hughes Krupica is a law firm which specialises in Dispute Resolution; Corporate Transnational and Domestic Law; Real Estate; Hospitality; Construction Contract Support; Transnational Structuring and Compliance; Transnational Commercial; and Litigation, operating in Bangkok and Phuket, servicing clients in relation to their business activities in Thailand and in other regions of Asia

GPS coordinate: 7.962140, 98.385884

 Contact info:

Hughes Krupica Consulting (Bangkok) Co. Ltd

Phuket Office:
23/123-5 Moo 2, Kohkaew Plaza, 
The Phuket Boat Lagoon, Tambon Kohkaew, Amphoe Muang, Phuket 83000
Tel:+66 76 608 468 

Bangkok Office:
179 Bangkok City Tower, Fifth Floor,
South Sathorn Rd, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120
Tel: +66 2 872 173

[email protected]
www.hugheskrupica.com

You also might like like from Hughes Krupica-Legal

Twitter