Here’s why you’ll want to develop these important business skills and learn how to resolve conflict between business partners
You need to learn how to fight productively in business. Brittle things break, so you need to learn how to address any feelings of conflict early and often, to learn how to fight and resolve conflict productively.
When it came to our own conflict style (or lack thereof), we sensed we were doing it (or, erm, not doing it) all wrong, and our management coach confirmed that when we started seeing him. Right away, he made it clear to us that we had to start articulating our feelings when we were annoyed, frustrated, or just straight-up mad at the other.
— Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur – Co-Founders, Of A Kind
How To Resolve Conflict Between Business Partners in 8 steps
1. ADDRESS THE CONFLICT.
Frustrations will build if you avoid it or pretend nothing happened. Tackle it early and consider the best way to deliver the message to set the conversation up for success.
2. TALK OFTEN AND GET PERSONAL.
Make space for the conversation, one person at a time and make sure the time is shared equitably. If you are Co-Founders or in a longer-term partnership make sure to schedule some time when you DON’T talk about business, where the only thing you can discuss is your relationship.
3. AVOID BECOMING REACTIONARY OR DEFENSIVE.
Listen to gain understanding. Don’t let yourself become reactionary to the other person’s words. If you feel yourself reacting, slow down, breathe and ask clarifying questions. If you need to take a break it’s ok to take one.
4. LOOK FOR COMMON GROUND.
You will want to air out any disagreements but you will only solve the issue by finding points of agreement. Really listen to what the other person is saying and look for those places where you agree and start there.
5. OWN YOUR MISTAKES AND FORGIVE QUICKLY.
Own your mistakes and apologize quickly. Tell the other person you’re truly sorry for any ill words or actions — and mean it. Integrity and trust take a long time to build and can be lost in a moment. If you own your mistakes and genuinely apologize for them you can repair any trust you broke with your actions. Get ahead of it, if you realize you’ve stumbled own up before they come to you and if they don’t, it’s not because they didn’t notice.
On the flip side, when you feel you’ve been wronged, try to forgive the other person whenever possible. We all make mistakes and don’t show up as our best selves from time to time and holding onto too many resentments can weigh us down.
6. DON’T SKIP THROUGH THE PROCESS TOO FAST.
It’s tempting to move past issues as quickly as possible and brush anything left unsaid under the carpet. To resolve a conflict you will need to make sure you get clear on the root cause, this may take several conversations. Be patient. You will also need to acknowledge hurt feelings and find a solution that begins to mend them before you can truly move forward.
7. REINFORCE YOUR BOUNDARIES:
You don’t have to say yes to everything to be a good partner, saying yes only when you mean yes can also help build your integrity. It helps to have the tools and language to say no or politely restate your boundary to the other person in a way that leaves you both feeling good about the interaction, but if your boundary is repeatedly crossed you will need to stand your ground.
8. BE KIND TO ONE OTHER:
Be human and remember you have another human on the other side. We all bring our own quirks and baggage to any relationship. Take the time to understand, try to see things from the other person’s point of view and be aware of what else they might be dealing with so you can better empathize and find more patience.
Show your appreciation often. Resentment can often build if the other person doesn’t feel seen, heard, or valued. Pay attention, notice the work they are doing and what is going well and let them know you appreciate the work they are doing. Be genuine in your praise.
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