Resolution of Conflicts between Businesses

“Bringing a problem to resolution and closure through continued discussion and compromise is an honourable act as it shows respect for the needs of both partners.” – Lynne Namka

We have discussed at length the damage that conflicts do and also the criticality of the resolution of conflicts is. Conflicts are inevitable at the workplace but when there are conflicts between businesses, they acquire a completely different handling. Since conflicts between businesses too are inescapable, business owners and operators must find effective, swift and low cost methods of resolving them. Conflicts can range from trivial misunderstandings to major skirmishes that can turn ugly and highly visible and damage one’s reputation and lead to loss of business.

Conflicts between businesses cause major inconveniences to all those who partner with your company – employees, customers, investors and other stakeholders. Each partner group could develop insecurities leading to reduced output, efficacy, lesser business, no company referrals, investors pulling back their funds and overall extensive damage to the business and relationships with all. Companies therefore, must proactively look at ways to minimise conflicts between businesses and also find innovative ways to resolve these conflicts if they do happen. Allowing conflicts between businesses to fester and leaving them unresolved is a major business faux pas. The conflicts could lead to huge and unmanageable damage and costs and also lead to highly problematic litigious situations. Every company must have access to an impartial negotiator who could help to resolve conflicts between businesses without high costs and irreparable damage.

Conflicts between businesses must not be treated as a war. Instead companies must adopt a calm, rational and pacified approach to resolving them. There must be in place, set policies and procedures to manage such disputes within each business such that when a crisis does occur, a company is not caught unawares and unprepared. If a company makes or receives a complaint, it is prudent to ensure that such complaints are in writing – it makes good business sense to have each aspect of the possible conflict as a record. In addition, the complaints in writing allows each side to carefully consider each issue and also be able to elucidate the reasons for their frustrations and look at methods to resolve them in the most professional and calm manner. Also putting complaints in writing leaves no room for ambiguity or guesswork and each company must either have on rolls or hire a professional to write out these complaints.

Resolving conflicts between businesses or between anyone requires collaboration, negotiation and an amicable approach in order for businesses to reach an agreement that is acceptable to all. This is often done by a third party who would be neutral and adept at the dispute resolution process focusing especially on mediation and conciliation. Conflicts between businesses have the capacity to quickly become highly visible and more so if they reach the stage of litigation and court procedures. The judicial process tends to extend over long periods of time leading to high costs and considerable damage to the company in more ways than one.

The fact is that methods other than court procedures can achieve a better success rate and studies have shown that conflicts between businesses and other conflicts can cost up to 95% less than litigious processes. Companies must focus on remaining composed and choose the path of negotiation and settlement that would in turn preserve one’s reputation and relationships in business while getting practical and implementable solutions. Through the negotiation process of resolution of conflicts between businesses, the solutions that are offered are usually acceptable to all parties involved and the whole process can be kept away from the harsh spotlight of publicity. A conciliatory process ensures complete control by all parties involved and even if there are some compromises to be made, these are still a lot more acceptable than flaunting one’s conflicts in public.

Conflicts between businesses (and any conflicts) should be resolved as swiftly and peacefully as possible. Such alternative resolution processes translate to fewer and lower costs in a highly timely, flexible, private and reliable manner. There is a higher level of satisfaction for the resolutions offered especially since the ‘negotiators’ offer multiple solutions rather than forcing the parties to accept one or another solution. The businesses involved in the conflict can monitor the process and are kept informed of the possible outcomes. During the entire process all the parties are able to maintain composure and also maintain a professional conduct leading to the preservation of business relationships.

There could be times where the conflicts between businesses are not immediately resolved for a variety of reasons, even then a completely professional demeanour is expected and a well-written complaint can be lodge with the next highest authority. These authority personnel provide guidance and easy to implement solutions but the process takes longer and there are possibilities of ‘leaks’ of trouble in the marketplace. Different kinds of conflicts between businesses are handled by different sets of such people and companies must be aware of these various ‘offices’ and also have a company representative responsible for handling such cases.

The resolution of conflicts between businesses is a factor of good negotiation and this factor is majorly responsible for the success of the resolution process. Effective negotiation and good communication skills help companies and businesses to sustain the good relationships that existed prior to the conflict without taking up too much time and effort. The other advantage of peaceful negotiation is that the solutions offered are more acceptable and sustainable and beat short term hastily offered solutions ensuring that issues and conflicts are reduced to the minimum in the foreseeable future.

Conflicts between businesses can only be resolved when each party is committed to the spirit of giving and receiving. The businesses involved in the conflict must be willing to be cordial and encourage active interaction that is positive and constructive such that the outcome is a win-win for all involved. The ‘parties’ must be willing to make allowances on things that could matter little to them but a lot to the other party thereby fostering a spirit of goodwill, relationship building and trust. If the end result is that the businesses are willing to give each other another chance and conduct business with each other again, it is certain that the negotiation process has been highly successful. A good negotiator is crucial to the resolution of conflicts between businesses – they would great communicators being masters of written, verbal and non-verbal forms of communication. They are extremely aware of the critical role they have and adopt a non-threatening approach when attempting the resolution of conflicts between businesses.

Every company must have a team of such professionals adept at conflict resolution and the kind of people that make best negotiators are flexible, can remain calm under pressure, able to think creatively, completely in control of all forms of communication and have the ability to plan and think ahead. They are able to maintain a non-confrontational approach and refrain from getting emotional but rather make it a point to stick with the issue and are extremely clear of their thought-process and the end goal.

The desire for resolution of conflicts between businesses provides the foundation to achieving a good understanding of each other and the dispute.

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