Create Win-Win agreements to resolve conflicts with your business partners

Conflicts are inevitable in all organizations, both within and between companies. They can be caused by a number of factors, including different values, beliefs, emotions, the perception of limited resources, and divergent goals.

Internal conflicts are those that occur within the company (e.g., between Marketing and Finance), while external conflicts happen between an organization and external stakeholders (suppliers and intermediaries). Some conflicts escalate due to a participant’s personality (e.g., personality), while others are triggered by substantive differences (e.g., quality, price).

Many techniques can be used to resolve such conflicts (negotiation or litigation, mediation, etc.). Many methods have been developed to resolve such disputes.

Conflicts in business can damage the relationships that are most important to an organization. In a traditional view, conflict is viewed as a fixed-sized pie. A participant will only be able to get more when they take away from the other party’s slice. This scarcity-based mentality is rooted in fear. It can take many forms: fear of losing resources,  being wrong, or fear of being controlled.

Conflict is a result of each party’s separation from the others. Both parties are often more concerned with their “right to be correct” than they are about caring for others. Most conflicts can be resolved amicably or avoided entirely with open communication and a positive attitude.

Companies that are successful in resolving conflicts act on noble principles, such as compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude. Prioritize the human side of each party during the negotiation, and this will preserve and strengthen their business relationship.

To avoid conflict, businesses should employ the following communication methods.

Use simple and clear language to express your needs. Focus on what you desire and use positive language whenever possible.

Please invite others to express their needs outright. Recognize others’ opinions (I appreciate your comments; thanks for letting us know.”).

Avoid mind-reading and guessing others’ opinions or preferences. To understand what others are saying, use open questions, paraphrasing, and clarifications.

Encourage your partner to elaborate with phrases like “Tell me about …” Listen attentively and don’t interrupt. Even in difficult times, keep an open mind.

Search for commonalities between participants. People who are able to identify their commonalities will naturally feel a sense of respect for other participants.

Do not ignore conflict or wait for it to resolve itself. Consider conflicts as a chance to learn.

Interpret comments made by others in a positive light. Paraphrase a negative comment from the perspective of a positive. Assume others are trying to achieve an agreement and have good intentions.

Use words to imply a relationship between participants, such as “let’s,” “us,” “we,” and “our.” If possible, avoid using words like “I,” “my,” or “mine.”

Avoid manipulative strategies such as false deadlines and ultimatums, which prevent participants from reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.

Allow others to express their emotions. Use sentences such as “It seems like you’re feeling …” to be empathetic.

Avoid adopting a defensive attitude. Do not respond to aggressive remarks in the same way. Use sentences such as “I feel …” to express your feelings calmly and without blaming anyone else.

Avoid personalizing conflict (for example, discussing personal characteristics). Personal conflicts tend to escalate more quickly.

When possible, try to approach the conflict in a positive mood. Participants who are experiencing positive emotions will come up with more creative solutions.

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