June 9

5 Tips For Dealing With Conflict For Business Success


Some might ask, what’s business conflict got to do with running a training  business or or consulting practice. A whole lot I would say. Managing conflict or differences of opinion is a crucial element of the survival of any business.  But today, I want to focus on partnerships or  jointly owned or run businesses.

How can conflict arise? It could be from lack of agreement on the direction your business should be heading.  In some cases there are no clearly defined goals or vision or indeed how to achieve or fulfil them.

For others conflict could arise out of lack of agreement on the method of implementation of agreed strategy,  Milder forms of conflict could result from distinct differences of opinion on operational or mundane issues. You can also have conflict with customers, clients, senior or junior colleagues at work.

A lot of folks believe that money (or love of it) is usually at the root of all business related conflict.  While I do not have conclusive research information to dispute this assertion, anecdotes suggest that a lot conflicts have their root in disagreement on how to share or apply the proceeds from the business.

Whichever way the  conflict comes about,  a good  leader must deal with it.  As Mike Myatt in his article – 5 Keys of Dealing with Workplace Conflict  puts it [Tweet “”Don’t fear conflict; embrace it – it’s your job.” “]

Trust – Distrust or mistrust/h3>

Trust builds. Distrust destoys.  Simple.  I cannot stress enough the importance of trust.  Trust transcends every relationship. From marital, to business, to friendship.  Some people say the hallmark of true friendship is trust.  That you can trust your friends without having to doubt their intentions or question their motives is fundamental to most relationships especially in business. I ran a business for several years with my friend Goke and I can say what enabled the business to thrive for many years was the trust our relationship was built .  We never questioned each others’ motives or motivation because we trusted that both of us were working to the same objective.  Which brings me to the next element

Know each other and centuate each other’s  strengths

Another key is to know each other well and accentuate each other’s strengths.  Understand  your weakness and strong points and use these to complement each other.  Goke and I had this almost perfect tag team set up while we ran Sabo Foods.  Goke was the operational guy, while I was the strategic chap. I would for instance look at out budget and cashflow and say that we anticipate a shortfall in say around 6-8 weeks based on trends and come up with a strategy or plan to deal or cope with it.  Goke would identify the customers that needed chasing for either orders or debt collections and ensured that the strategy or plan was implemented.

I hated working in the warehouse.  Goke loved it and could not stand sitting behind a computer.  I would take care of the administrative and technical issues while Goke focused on ensuring the warehouse ran smoothly.  This is not to say that when everyone needed to muck in to complete a task, that we left it to the other without supporting him.  This understanding worked really well to make sure that the business ran very smoothly..

Act truthfully and with integrity

I don’t know any business that can survive in the long term if the owners do not act with truth and integrity.  I wrote a post on this subject recently titled – What do values like integrity, trust and honesty have to do with business?  .  Quite simply, the answer is – Everything!

Always strive to  look at things  from  the other person’s viewpoint

This is not exactly being unselfish, it is more like always ensuring you look at everything from your client’s or your partner’s point of view.  This can be more difficult to achieve than most people think.  First you must have an understanding of that person’s point of view (whoever that person may be). Secondly how that person would view the specific situation you are considering acting upon may be difficult to imagine.  The question  is – what do you do?  Amazingly simple – ask them what they they think. So that immediately takes the guessing out of the equation.  It’s like conducting a customer survey to gauge your customers’ opinions  on your product or service.  You wouldn’t base that on a wild guess.  You  will of course ask them questions relevant to the issues you want to investigate.

Be flexible – life is about give and take

[Tweet “Conflict is unhealthy and useless dissipation of emotional energy that hardly serves useful purpose”]
Being flexible  could mean ‘being capable of bending easily without breaking’..or ’(of a person) ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances or being ‘able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstance’

I am not asking that you compromise your core values or principles, but you adapt for instance  by taking on tasks that need to be done that do not necessarily fall within your ‘job description’ . You do it because it is needed for  smooth running of the operation.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of methods of dealing with conflict.  However, these worked for me quite well in my experience.

Have you ever faced conflict in your business or personal life? How did you deal with it?  It would be great to hear from you.  Kindly leave your comments below.

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