07/26/2013 09:50 am ET Updated Sep 25, 2013

The New Global Leader, Part IV: Nick Parry, 'The Conflict Doctor'

From the rough streets of London to the tensions of Jerusalem, from Fortune 500 companies to elite universities, from the rolling hills of Central California to the lush expanses of Brazil and on to the shimmering capitals of Europe: Nick shares his wisdom and insight with hosts of business leaders, teams and individuals as a life and intercultural coach, seminar leader and spiritual guide. He is CEO of LanguageUnites, an intercultural communication institute, and co-director, along with me, of Open Minds Open Markets, an international people and business development and networking organization.

O'Brien: Nick, what exactly does "Conflict Doctor" mean -- that you cause or resolve conflicts?

Nick: (Laughing) If you ask my 16-year-old son he might give you a different answer, but my talent is supporting companies that are either merging with another company, out-sourcing a particular task abroad or trying to manage global project rollouts, in how to avoid costly conflicts which erode budgets and destroy deadlines.

I also coach individuals how to face their personal conflict patterns and move on to become more successful and content.

O'Brien: Intriguing. As I'm sure you know, most people see conflict as something negative, something to be avoided...

Nick: Exactly. But growing up in Brixton, London, it became a survival tactic. I learnt that avoiding conflict meant I had to understand situations from all perspectives. As a one-time social worker I had many opportunities to perfect these skills. I now work within the international corporate world and see conflict as a chance to foresee the changes which are necessary to move forward. It's like being tuned into the traffic news on the radio. Every now and then business is interrupted with a warning of possible problems ahead, allowing us to reevaluate and decide which route we need to take. It's the way we deal with conflict that causes problems -- it's not the conflict itself.

O'Brien: So in other words, you see something positive in conflict.

Nick: Right. The energy of conflict is to create clarity and reveal the steps which need to be taken on an individual personal level, on a team level and internationally at a corporate level.

O'Brien: OK. Now, just to step back a bit, why conflict? I mean, most coaches concentrate on their clients' companies' growth and revenues and the like. Obviously you do this as well, but what attracts you especially to conflict?

Nick: When we focus on where the friction is we can see what energies are at work and see where they want to go. I passionately feel that we can learn a great deal about markets, potential areas of growth, and avoid costly mistakes by studying and working with conflict, and respecting the forces at play. As an example, I recently helped a company avoid a huge conflict that was brewing due to the impersonal management style of the Japanese-German management team within the more relationship-based Italian production team.

O'Brien: So are you saying, without conflict, there can be no true growth or clarity?

Nick: Essentially, yes. It is a natural stage of any change. But also, if managed in a sensitive and progressive way, it can help companies open up profitable partnerships. Or individuals break through negative patterns in their lives. My years of experience in working with and studying the different expectations and perspective that exist in the world, allow me to support managers to make more calculated and synergetic decisions.

O'Brien: Nick my man, as always it is highly instructive and interesting to hear your unique take on things. Now I think it's high time we share a dram or two of 16 year-old Lagavulin.

Nick: Thanks, mate. And let me just leave your readers with one last thought: without conflict our world would be a very different place. There would be no mountains or valleys and life itself would not be so diverse and beautiful. The most magnificent pearl is created because an oyster has to deal with a conflict inside its own shell. Our world is full of conflict; or seen from another viewpoint, full of opportunities for growth.

Now pour me a dram, brother. Cheers!

O'Brien: Cheers to that!