written by: Vikas Vij•edited by: Ginny Edwards•updated: 10/2/2010
When business partners disagree, they essentially have differences of opinion. But when they are mixed with emotion, they become ego issues. Logic must prevail over emotion for the company’s overall good.
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What Can You Do When Business Partners Disagree?
Business partnerships must have a democratic power structure where every partner gets a fair say in the affairs of the company. A lop-sided business partnership, just like a lop-sided marriage, may fail sooner than later. Once the set-up is democratic, there are bound to be dissent and disagreements on various issues. Many business situations can be subjective in nature with areas of gray. Therefore, it is natural that partners may have differences of opinion towards the management of such situations and decision making.
Disagreements are Healthy in Principle
Business partners must have a clear understanding that disagreeing with each other is not an unacceptable or unhealthy practice in business management. When business partners disagree it can be a constructive exercise in brainstorming and the end results can be positive for the company. If the partners do not have independent opinions, the whole purpose of a partnership is defeated and it is like a sole proprietorship where only one head decides everything. Men of conviction can and should disagree with each other whenever they have a good reason to do so. All partners are ultimately working towards the common group goals, and that makes argumentation and disagreement a healthy exercise in the company’s favor.
Resolving Differences in an Atmosphere of Mutual Trust
Once it is established that the motives of the partners are above-board, it becomes easy to resolve disagreements to arrive at a consensus decision. Presentation of full facts and communicating with frankness is critical to resolving the differences of opinion between partners. Discussions must be conducted in an atmosphere of mutual trust and mutual respect. There must be an approach of flexibility from all sides, and logic and rationality must prevail over emotion and ideologies.
Respect to Seniority and Experience
If there are a number of partners at the helm of the business, there must be a convention of giving preferential importance to the advice and guidance of the senior and experienced partners, particularly in times of dispute and disagreement. These are situations when the intervention of experienced partners helps in resolving the differences for the larger good of the company. So the discussions must be conducted with a basic respect for the senior partners who usually have a superior ability to resolve disputes amicably for all sides.
Option of Arbitration
Companies generally have patrons or non-executive board members who are hired for their visionary guidance and support to the company’s mission and objectives. In the event of a disagreement between partners that fails to get resolved mutually, it may be prudent to invite a well-wisher who is trusted by all partners to act as a mediator and help to end the deadlock amicably for all sides. It must be agreed between the partners that the decision of the mediator will be considered final and binding on all. Many times bitter disputes get successfully resolved with the mediation of a trusted third party.
As long as mutual trust and mutual respect for each other is not lost in a business partnership, even the most challenging disputes and disagreements can be resolved because eventually the partners are working only towards the advancement of the company’s goals.