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You Can Avoid Disputes in Business Relationships

A small business is a relationship business.  

Relationships with suppliers, customers, business partners and employees can thrive when the business is working well but when relationships don’t work, the business will suffer. 

Business partners may start with great ideas but limited planning and few ground rules. Sooner or later, they may discover the hard way that what’s left unsaid or unplanned often leads to unmet expectations, anger and frustration. Productive communication is one of the most challenging components for any organization. Each person may think they are communicating clearly or that the other party should “know” they are keeping up with their part of the agreement or “know” what needs to be done.  In reality, this lack of communication can become an opportunity for contention and misunderstanding.

Partners can disagree over countless things, including conflicting work ethics and financial goals, roles in the business and leadership styles. Before you start the business:

  • Set up written ground rules
  • Communicate regularly
  • Include a provision for mediation when conflicts or impasse occurs
  • You many want a neutral third party mediator help in setting up your ground rules.  Communication can be difficult especially when a sensitive issue needs to be discussed

When a business is family owned the potential for problems can increase.  Issues may roll over to spouses, parents and children.  When you want to have an ongoing relationship, mediation can help in the resolution process.

Business succession is another potential area of frustration when clearly agreed on succession plans are not in place and have not been communicated to everyone.

Employees can cause disruption in the workplace, personality conflicts are very common and communication styles can create issues.  A mediator can work with the employees to develop solutions.

Misunderstandings, miscommunication and unrealized expectations between suppliers or customers can result in financial devastation.

When you feel your business is suffering because of communication issues, take the time to revisit or revise your expectations. Speak openly and honestly with each other and don’t let your dream struggle and die for lack of straightforward conversation.

Sometimes it is difficult of even impossible for people to talk to each other, so working with a neutral third party can be the answer. A mediator helps diffuse difficult conversations, and using a formal process helps the participants move forward toward a solution.


Joanna Wares

Joanna Wares is a skilled mediator and arbitrator. Las Vegas Mediation offers an alternative method for business and families to resolve disputes. MORE >

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