A large part of being a successful business owner is knowing how to consciously manage relationships and facilitate conflict when it arises in a healthy and productive way.
When business owners and managers find themselves in a disagreement or misalignment of expectations, the potential costs are endless. For starters, the energetic drain from the conflict, possible loss of personnel, and of course your reputation as a trustworthy business.
First and foremost, remember that conflict most often arises because an agreement or process was not properly handled at the start. It’s important as a business owner that at the beginning of any professional relationship you are creating clear boundaries and expectations. The best way to begin your business relationships is by using an agreement process, and we can support you with that.
Here we’ll take a look at the different types of tactics to use when settling business disputes:
Clarify the Actual Dispute: Ensure you understand the desired outcome the other party seeks for resolution. It is equally important to clarify your own desired outcome. It can be challenging to see what’s actually going on when emotions are high. Speak with a trusted advisor to help you get clarity.
Offers Without Prejudice: Once you are in the dispute resolution process, be mindful when making offers for resolution. Ensure that you state that your offer is “without prejudice” and with no admission of guilt so that if you do end up having to go to court, the offer cannot prejudice your case.
Use Alternative Dispute Resolution Models: Going to court is a lose/lose scenario for everyone involved. Be sure you have mediation and arbitration provisions built into every agreement you sign. Resolve matters outside of court, whenever possible.
Don’t Rely Solely on Your Legal Rights: If you want to avoid going to court—and it’s usually in your best interest to do so— put a good faith effort into finding a mutually beneficial solution on which to agree while still invoking your rights. We can help you with that as we focus on finding resolve in every conflict, by seeking to identify where the respective parties’ needs can be met and matched up as part of our conflict resolution process.
Watch Your Wording: Settlement offers can be complicated. The way an agreement is worded or structured can affect the outcome, especially if that outcome is a financial judgment. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the terms and conditions in any settlement offer. And never make a settlement offer without having us, your Family Business Lawyer™ strategize and review the wording with you first.
No one wants to end up in a dispute and when we are, it is often to see an outcome where everyone wins. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of conflict in the future. To start, find a trusted legal professional who will help you put protective measures in place to avoid the most common mistakes businesses make. That’s why a Family Business Lawyer® is there to help you face the challenges of owning a business.
We help small business owners negotiate settlements and channel their time and energy toward growth and potential instead of putting out fires. We’ll begin by sitting down to discuss how you can implement a robust legal, insurance, financial, and tax system that will streamline your business operations and minimize your risk of encountering contract disputes. Schedule your LIFT Strategy Session with me today.
This article is a service of Liz Smith, Family Business Lawyer™. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule your appointment at 907-312-5436, or find a time for us to call you.