Disagreements can be a healthy part of any working relationship as it can push both parties to stretch beyond their comfort zones and evaluate alternative ways of looking at different challenges and scenarios.
When disputes get heated, however, it can have the opposite effect. Both sides may choose to shut down and effectively close off any path to resolution. The most heated disagreements can lead to litigation, loss of the partnership, and even the loss of the business – all of which are costly, time-consuming, and mentally draining, just to name a few.
How to Avoid and Resolve Business Partnership Disputes
The good news for business relationships, however, is that partnership disputes can be avoided – and even if they can’t be completely so, there are paths to resolution that won’t lead to an irrevocably damaged partnership.
If you and your business partner are on the brink of a dispute, here are three ways you can work to resolve them:
- Look to your written partnership agreement – Many disputes can be avoided by thoughtfully planning ahead and putting in writing a path to resolution should an issue arise. Partnership agreements should include as much detail as possible so that nothing is left to chance (for some of what to include, review this post on partnership agreements).
In your written agreement, it’s important to address any and all potential points of contention, including division of labor, contributions, decision-making authority, and other issues specific to your business. Be sure also to spell out what steps will be taken if there is a partnership dispute. As you prepare your partnership agreement, or if you need to amend it, contact a Florida commercial lawyer to ensure that everyone’s interests and rights will be protected.
- Listen first before making a judgment – There is a lot at stake in business partnerships, and when things get heated, it can be easy to jump to conclusions. Before going into battle mode with your partner, listen to what the other person has to say. A helpful exercise may be to set aside time just for listening. After heads have cooled, allow each person to speak uninterrupted for a set period of time without rushing to conclusions or exerting reactions.Actively listening and focusing on the solution, rather than making it personal, may lead to resolution.
- Seek outside help – Some disputes may require outside intervention, and when they do, it should not be seen as a failure on anyone’s part. Turning to a trained mediator to help resolve business disputes is an important step in resolving the current issue and preventing even more concerning problems down the road. A trusted mediator will help keep emotions in check and ensure that the conversation stays focused on the substantive issues at hand.
Disagreements can quickly escalate into full-on disputes if they aren’t handled with care and attention. If you are a Florida business owner, contact us at Silverberg|Brito, PLLC for trusted legal advice for your business and help with your business partnerships.