Monday, September 24, 2012

Handle Business Disputes

Suggestions for Handling Disputes
Any conflicts involving customers, employees or suppliers, or a partner, is very disruptive. Disputes and conflicts cannot be allowed to escalate because of the damage they can cause. There are ways of dealing with disputes, to arrive at an agreement or resolution where all parties concerned are satisfied.
Here are a few suggestions for handling a dispute:
  1. Focus on your long-term interest. Try to find an outcome where your business retains its best interests as its main objective. Don't get obsessed with winning a particular dispute or conflict if that is not necessarily the best position for the business in the long run.
  2. Find something simple and quick, and resolve that first. The best resolution is usually that which can be quickly agreed to. The longer a dispute drags out, the more costly it will become and the heavier the disruption to your business, as well as your own personal life. Even if there is some cost involved, it is far better to settle the matter fast.
  3. It's not personal - it's business. If you are in business, you will have to get used to the fact that you will be a target of complaints from someone, whether it be a customer or supplier. No one is perfect and no business is perfect, so expect that things may not always work out as planned. However, you have to ensure that you don't take these attacks personally, but try to focus on the issues involved, rather than the personalities involved. Remember it's not personal - it's business.
  4. Avoid court. If you can avoid it, do not go to the courts with your quarrel. Using lawyers and the court's time is an expensive exercise and can tie up the business and yourself for some period of time. It also creates a lot of stress, which could be avoided by settling for something a little easier or acceptable to both parties. The trick is to avoid going to the law unless there is no other solution. If at all possible, have open discussions with the other party, as they will also understand the time and cost wasted by going to the court. It is far better for both parties to work out a solution outside of legal action. This should be the priority or aim of a meeting set to resolve a conflict.
  5. Find if there is an alternative to resolve the dispute. You may like to investigate whether mediation or arbitration is a fair alternative of finding a resolution. Mediation simply provides for a neutral third party to sit in on discussions while the two parties try to come to a resolution. Mediation is not binding on any party; it is a means of opening up communication to find a resolution. Arbitration however is where two parties sit before a person, known as the arbitrator, who will make an award or decision after hearing both sides of the story. The decision of the arbitration is binding.
  6. Conflicts need to be Resolved Delicately. Conflicts are inevitable. The sooner you as a business owner realise this, the better. The trick is to try and arrive at a positive outcome, so both parties are happy. You need to remember that each party has different priorities and agendas and they are looking at the conflict from two different perspectives. There are certain characteristics, however, that come across and these include:
    • People hate to have others disagree with them.
    • People definitely like others to agree with their views.
    • People love to be agreed with.
    • People don't like others who disagree with them.
    • People who are good at resolving conflicts look for a point of agreement and use their skills to get the other party to see their point of view.
    Resolving the conflicts can be a delicate exercise. The only way to win in a conflict is to arrive at the position where both parties leave the meeting feeling that at least they have won something. That is, try to find a win/win solution. If you don't, and you win your argument, you may take home more cash or win on the issue, but you will lose a customer, client or friend forever. Try and see if it is possible to go down the middle, where each party leaves with a 50/50 win and there is satisfaction, because 50% is better than nothing. There is also the realisation that the other party got away with only 50% (rather than 100%) of what they wanted as well. Always try for win/win and try never to allow the conflict to escalate too quickly or too far, certainly not to the point where it is difficult to recover the position.