We’ve all been there, in that awkward situation where a business partner or colleague has done something unknowingly that has antagonised the business relationship.
We’ve all asked the same question to ourselves, do we let it go, or do we discuss it, possibly creating an argument?
Well guess what? Both options are going to result in a problem, one just may occur later, and may have more antagonism behind it from pent up frustration, than the other.
It is easier and safer to ignore the conflict and play ostrich. Unfortunately, unresolved conflict tends to escalate. It never really disappears because it simmers just below the surface.
Do not avoid the conflict, hoping it will go away. Trust me. It won't. Even if the conflict appears to have been “put to rest”, it will rear its ugly head whenever stress increases or a new disagreement occurs. An unresolved conflict or disagreement will fester just under the surface of your work relationship.
Many people are afraid of conflict resolution. They feel threatened by it because they may not get what they want if the other party gets what they want. Even in the best circumstances, conflict resolution is uncomfortable because people are usually unskilled at managing conflict. And moreover, people can get hurt in a conflict and, at work, they are still expected to work together effectively every day.
Is conflict unavoidable? With so many types of different personalities and different ways of seeing things, conflict is usually a given so it’s best to learn how to handle it early on.
Taking an aggressive approach or being defensive are usually two ways that will definitely not get you results. You should take a step back to see if you are able to get an objective view of what really is going on. Understanding both sides of the issue is a great beginning of handling conflict in a constructive way. Admitting that you are wrong when appropriate can also move you forward in creating positive relationships in the future.
Don’t ever play the blame game. You alienate coworkers. Yes, you may need to identify who was involved in a problem. You may need to ask the question “what about the work system caused the problem?” Then try to fix the system to avoid future problems. If it was due to an a business colleague not keeping a commitment, then try to fix the scheduling system to allow for flexibility, or put some processes in place for that collegue if they find themselves over “booked”. Never talk down or rudely to a colleague, this is not a solution to anything and will just create greater rifts in the work place that will be harder to mend.
Do not believe, for even a moment, the only people who are affected by the conflict are the participants. Everyone in your office and every employee with whom the conflicting employees interact, is affected by the stress. People feel as if they are walking on egg shells in the presence of the antagonists.
How to Make Partnerships Work
Sit down as a team and outline your expectations for how you’ll operate your business. Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the partners based on their skills and desires. By clearly defining who needs to be doing what, why and when, will help to eliminate any blame game that may otherwise arise.
Establish routines for daily communication. For example, agree to talk twice a day at designated times and to re-evaluate goals on a regular basis. At least once a quarter, sit down and discuss how you envision the future of the business and what steps need to be taken to get there.
How you work out the details of setting up a partnership could be an indicator of how well or poorly your prospective venture will operate. Inevitably, some potential partners will realize through the process they weren’t meant to be.
And finally remember communication is the most important tool in a business. While the lines of communications are open and flowing, problems, mistakes and conflicts are minimal. If the lines of communication fail, then problems, mistakes and conflicts will certainly result.