Facing Consequences

Several years ago, during a taxi drive in Singapore, the driver, upon learning of my U.S. citizenship, reminded me about the event several years ago with the American teenager sentenced to caning for crimes committed in Singapore. That event cast a worldwide spotlight on Singapore’s follow-through with consequences.

As I understand the story, the American teenager was around 15 years old and living in Singapore. As a prank he scratched the paint of a few parked cars, and unfortunately for him, one of the cars belonged to a high-ranking Singapore court official.

The teenager’s seemingly severe punishment, at least in the West’s perspective, gripped the world’s attention. In fact, President Bill Clinton became involved, asking Singapore’s government to intervene and stop the caning. The boy’s parents were able to convince the most powerful leader in the world to intervene on their son’s behalf.

His parents wanted to protect him from the consequences of his action. Now, mind you, I’m not advocating caning or corporal punishment by any means. However, it caused me to think about the problems associated with High Conflict Disruptors (HCDs), and specifically, one cause of their personality problem is a lifetime of being protected from natural consequences.

Because HCDs have often been sheltered from life’s natural consequences, their expectations for special treatment is higher. This requires those in authority in the workplace to be clear about expectations and follow through with consequences. It may be the only way HCD’s will be able to contain their behavior.

Consequences are a fundamental and natural part of our lives. High Conflict Disruptors appear is all parts of our life – personal, business, and even cross-border business – and one way of managing them  is with clear, natural consequences that are articulated before hand and followed through afterwards.


Megan Hunter is a speaker, trainer, consultant and CEO at Unhooked Media. She is co-founder of High Conflict Institute and was a Family Law & Child Support Specialist at the Arizona Supreme Court. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.