By Jamie Moore Marcario
In part 1, we explored why business owners have to know how to negotiate deals in a way that diminishes the amount of conflict involved as much as possible. In addition to draining your financial resources, business disputes can result in serious fights, and even lawsuits, that suck up precious time and energy to resolve. The key to avoiding these scenarios is to set clear boundaries and realistic expectations at the outset of entering any business relationship or signing any professional agreement. In doing so, you set yourself up for positive outcomes rather than negative consequences.
Let’s face it. We would all rather completely avoid conflict when it comes to business matters, but that is virtually impossible. So it is imperative that you are prepared to address business disputes appropriately and head on when they arise. To help you achieve the best outcome possible when business deals go wild, we at Thrive Law offer you these 5 strategies for getting your dispute from Wild to Mild as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Clarify What You’re Fighting About:
You know what you want. But are you sure you know the other party’s desired outcome for resolution? If not, be sure to ask clarifying questions to be sure you understand the other party’s point of view, their wants, their concerns, and their desires. Once you’re clear on what “they” want, get clear on what you want as a resolution, too. This requires asking yourself some tough questions and coming face to face with your ego. While it may be challenging, this is not the time to let your ego dictate the outcome. Instead, let the voice of reason decide the best result for you. Although it’s tough to see what’s going on at the heart of a dispute while emotions are running high, that’s the time to step back and see the dispute with fresh eyes. If you’re having a difficult time with this step, speak with a trusted advisor (like the great team at Thrive Law) to help you find the clarity you need to make good decisions.
Make Offers without Admissions:
So now you find yourself squarely in the midst of the dispute resolution process and you just want it to be over. However, be careful during this time that your desire to get it over with does not cloud your judgment when offering options for resolution. Instead, be mindful to propose win-win solutions where possible, but do so “without prejudice” or any admission of guilt or liability. That way, if you end up in court, your resolution offer cannot taint your legal case.
Try Alternative Dispute Resolution Techniques:
Lawsuits are generally a lose-lose for everyone involved. So before you have that attorney file that lawsuit, attempt to resolve your business dispute through alternate means, like informal settlement conferences, collaborative dispute resolution, mediation, or arbitration. To ensure these options are available to you, be sure that every business and professional agreement you sign has alternative dispute resolution provisions built in. While it sounds great to “you’re your day in court,” it’s generally better for you and everyone you love to resolve matters outside of the courtroom whenever possible.
Don’t Fight for Your Legal Rights on Principle:
If you want to avoid going a lawsuit over a business dispute—and it’s usually in your best interest to do so—make a truly good-faith effort to reach a mutually beneficial solution with the other party. Find a resolution that protects your legal rights while giving the other party something that they need or want, too. Feeling a little lost about how to accomplish this? The team at Thrive Law can help as a key part of our mission is to help our clients resolve disputes out of court whenever possible by identifying how the respective parties’ needs can be met and where there are commonalities that can be leveraged to facilitate agreement in the conflict resolution process.
Watch your Language:
Settlement offers can be complicated. The way an agreement is worded or structured can affect the outcome, especially if that outcome is a financial judgment. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the terms and conditions in any settlement offer. And never make a settlement offer without having a trusted advisor strategize and review the wording with you first.
Most importantly, if you’re facing a business dispute with a partner, an employee, or a vendor, seek counsel from a trusted legal advisor before going it alone. The right lawyer can help you avoid the most common mistakes while protecting your business interests during settlement negotiations.
This article is an educational service of Thrive Law a business law boutique.™ It does not constitute legal or tax advice or imply an attorney-client or accountant-client relationship. At Thrive Law, we offer a full spectrum of legal services for businesses and are equipped to help you make the wisest choices about your business dealings while you’re alive and well or in the event of your incapacity or death. We also offer a Healthy Business & Creative Checkup for ongoing ventures, as well as outsourced company counsel plans for businesses who need a legal team on speed dial. Contact us today to schedule: 727.300.1990 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We cannot wait to meet you!