Business Partnership Advisor
Together, we can fix your business and partnership problems
Chris Reich, Business Luminary
How to Resolve a Disagreement with Your Business Partner
Chris, I don’t know what to do. My business partner and I never agreed on everything, but we were able to talk things through. Now, when we disagree it goes straight to an argument.
When Disagreements with Business Partner Always Lead to Arguments
There are many reasons why this can happen. You might have to think deeply about what caused the relationship to fracture. More importantly, you’ll want to create processes around decision making that take the emotions out. Successful business partnerships are always based on mutual respect and an unwritten understanding that both partners want what’s best for the business so that “giving in” doesn’t mean surrender.
What If You Disagree About Everything?
When I ask people about what the disagreements are about, they always say the same thing, “Evenything.” Really? I am suspicious if two people disagree over everything. If that’s true, it’s time to step back and look at your part in the disagreements. Ask yourself if you are adding to the tension. You probably are and that’s natural once problems between people flare up. Just make sure to understand how much fuel you add to the fire.
Make Notes About Your Disagreements
My all-time favorite tool is a simple notebook. Get a basic notebook and document recent and new disagreements. This is helpful in clarifying the nature of your disagreements. Try to stick with facts. For example, if you wanted to boost parter’s pay and your partner disagreed, don’t write down that the idiot can’t ever see things your way. Write about your first conversation on this subject. How was it brought up? Who said what? How did it end?
Here’s the point. Mostly we need to learn how to talk to each other. We often enter conversations in a battle ready state. We’ll open with words like, “I know you won’t agree but I think we should both be making more money.” That’s not going to go well. Pay attention to how things are expressed and make notes.
The sooner you get help with your partnership disagreement, the easier (cheaper) it will be to fix.
Chris Reich can help you repair your business partnership.
Bring in a Mediator
Having an outside, neutral party guide your discussion can keep the emotions at bay while getting the partners focused on the issues. That’s why you want to call me. I not only will help with the tension, I can provide business advice to keep these things from flaring up in the future.
Definition and Meetings
The first advice I always give is to bring definition to your business partnership. That means, define how decisions are made. Define who has the authority to make decisions. Define how “ties” are broken with partners disagree. Define areas of resonsibility. The lack of definition is the root cause of your tension with your business partner.
For years I have written about why we need more meetings. That alone has sent more eyeballs rolling that anything else I ever say. Yes, you need more meetings.
The reason we resist meetings is because most meetings we attend are not very productive. We need to learn how to conduct better meetings. Start by setting a firm time limit. If you are dealing with tension or disagreement, keep the meeting short. 30 minutes is an ideal time frame.
A Story from a Recent Meeting
I was called into a situation where there are quite a few partners, 6 to be exact. There was an undercurrent of tension and I was asked to look into the tension and offer guidance. One big recommendation was that we have meetings and discuss things that are the minds of the partners. I was scheduled to present my findings in a 1 hour presentation. When I brought the subject of talking about issues freely, everyone wanted to add to the dialogue. We talked for an hour about having more conversations. Finally, someone said, “this is great. I feel better already. What he’s [Chris] saying is that we need to have more meetings like this!” Exactly. Tesion gone.
Keep the first few meetings short and always have an agenda. The agenda can be as informal as “Talk about vision for the next 6 months”. Then, set a time, sit down together in a private, quiet place, and talk. (Don’t meet over lunch or at Starbuck’s)
If you have disagreements with your business partner(s), start by making good notes about the issues. Get advice on how to improve your communication with your business partner. A good mediator can do wonders for your relationship and your business. Bring definition into your partnership. Finally, have formal meetings with your business partner(s) and always have an agenda.
Disagreements between business partners are normal and healthy. Learning how to resolve them is good for business.
Chris Reich, Business Mediator
“Have you ever heard someone recommend that you have MORE meetings?”
When the business partnership breaks down, the darker sides of the personalities come through. A dominant partner turns into a bully. A person who does not do well with conflict will withdraw. As the bully gets more aggressive, the pacifist withdraws further. Eventually, the bully gets so angry they are ready to lock the other partner out. The pacifist quits coming in. The next blowout is over money. The course is as logically predictable as what will happen to your car if you hit the highway with no oil in the engine. It will get louder and louder until the engine seizes.
I recommend that partners talk through a specific issue and then draft an agreement (called a resolution) that sets a policy. You can keep this in a binder to serve as amendments (or foundation) to your Partnership Agreement. In this post I’ll explain how to talk about things that bug you with your partner and how to draft a binding resolution to fix the problems.
Unless you are in some sort of political business, you should keep politics out of your establishment completely. Of course, you have freedom of speech, but we are in very contentious times and displays of political or religious positions might be off-putting to to your customers.