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Chris Reich, Business Luminary

When Business Partners Disagree

It is perfectly normal for business partners to disgree from time to time. You want to avoid letting a disagreement turn into a dispute,

It’s Normal for Business Partners to Disagree Sometimes

It’s not only normal for business partners to disagree, it’s also healthy for the business. Having multiple points of view should lead to better decision making. Successful partnerships deal with disagreement often. The differentiator between a great partnership and a weak partnership is that great partnerships keep their disagreements from becoming disputes.

In this post I want to explain how to handle partnership disagreements intelligently without falling to conflict.

5 Steps to Resolving Partnership Disagreements

There are 5 steps you can use to resolve disagreements with your business partner. These steps require that you and your partner put emotions aside and make intelligent decisions for your business. If you’re already at the dispute stage, jump to Step 5!

Step 1: Ask Yourself if this is Worth a Disagreement

In a recent partner’s meeting with me, one partner complained about the other buying sandwiches for the monthly staff meeting (total of 5 people!). The question was posed, “Do we really need to feed them?”  Come on, people. The bill for that lunch was under $35. The meeting is once a month. If that expense is stressing your business, quit now.

Ask yourself if the subject at hand is worth an argument. If not, let it go. And by let it go, I do not mean to drop a comment like, “I think you are wasting money by feeding them but I’m not going to make an issue of it.” Good grief. By saying that, you ARE making an issue of it. Grow up.

Step 2: Learn How to Talk to Each Other (Hint: Use Questions)

This really works! Learn to introduce topics by asking questions.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your partner wants to hire someone as an office assistant but you think the business cannot afford to hire at this time. You might start the dialogue but asking, “What kinds of things do you see this person doing?” Or, “Is there an expense we can cut to pay for a new new person?”

By asking sincere questions, you open the door to honest dialogue. Just don’t be a jerk and ask a stupid and leading question like, “Why are you always wasting money? Why do I always have to be the adult?” Yes, I actually hear that kind exchange. I think you can see where that goes.

Questions, properly composed, open good business discussion. But, if you feel ‘reactive’ or if your partner is getting defensive, go to Step 3!

5 Steps When Partners Disagree

5 Steps to Take When Business Partners Disagree by Chris Reich

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Step 3: Agree to a Planned Discussion (Meeting)

If things get tense when you are posing your questions, suggest that you have a detailed talk about this subject at a planned time.

You would say, “Let’s gather our thoughts, make some notes, and talk about this later today. Could we meet at 2:00?” You want to step away if the discuss feels tense, but you want a set time to sit down and talk about it. Do not just say, “I don’t want to talk about this now and then walk away.”

Express a sincere desire to talk and set a time to do so. Easy. When you meet, ask questions. Talk. Be open. Go to Step 4.

Step 4: Agree to Always Agree

This sounds easy but it might be the most important and hardest step. You must always agree to agree. This MUST be a rule with partners. Wait! That does not mean that you always give in. You might take turns giving in. You might flip a coin. Whatever method you use, you must end the discussion with agreement.

Think of a way to reach agreement when you and your partner reach a deadlock.

Step 5: Use a Mediator to Help with Meetings

You knew I’d get to this one, right? Look, clients who have me ‘moderate’ their business meetings always tell me that so much more gets done and that all the partners work well together when I’m there. If you try this, you will find a treasure of new thinking that will benefit your business.

When there is a slight amount of tension in a partnership, the partners tend to see their own positions clearly but they lose sight of things that will benefit their business.

I can give you countless examples of ideas that came out at a meeting I moderated that saved or grew a business. You’ve read this entire post so I won’t lecture you with more examples.

Please consider the value of having an experienced business professional help with meetings. Call me to learn more about how my process works. I’ll explain everything and answer all your questions and provide you with an affordable cost. I make every effort on every case to generate more revenue than it costs to hire me to help you with your partnership.

That’s it! Follow these steps if you disagree with your business partner and you will see things get better quickly.

Have a GREAT year!

Chris Reich, Partnership Mediator


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5 Steps to Take When Business Partners Disagree

Step 1: Ask Yourself if this is Worth a Disagreement
Step 2: Learn How to Talk to Each Other (Hint: Use Questions)
Step 3: Agree to a Planned Discussion (Meeting)
Step 4: Agree to Always Agree
Step 5: Use a Mediator to Help with Meetings

Chris Reich, Partnership Mediator

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Phone: (530) 467-5690

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