Many laud entrepreneurship as the driver of innovation and progress. And while there’s no doubt that businesses and entrepreneurs play a vital role in our economy, the truth is that disagreements and disputes are inevitable. Whether it’s a disagreement between business partners or a customer complaint, dealing with disputes is just part of doing business.
Dealing with business disputes can be time-consuming, stressful, and expensive. And while some conflicts are unavoidable, there are steps that businesses can take to minimize the impact of disagreements.
Here are a few best practices for handling business disputes:
Being proactive is one of the best ways to handle and avoid business disputes. By being proactive, you can take steps to prevent disagreements from happening in the first place.
Some things you can do to be proactive include:
- Establishing clear communication protocols and expectations
- Formalizing business agreements
- Creating dispute resolution procedures
- Training employees on how to deal with disputes
Failure to communicate effectively is often at the root of business disputes. By being proactive and establishing clear communication protocols, you can help prevent misunderstandings and disagreements.
Try To Resolve the Issue Directly With the Person Involved
When it comes to business disputes, resolving the issue directly with the person involved is often the best action. This allows you to communicate face-to-face and potentially fix the problem without having to go through a third party.
By trying to resolve the issue directly, you can also avoid escalating the situation and potentially making it worse. This can save time and money and may be less stressful than going through a formal dispute resolution process.
While this can be an effective way to resolve disputes, it’s not always possible. If the person involved is uncooperative or unwilling to talk, you may need to pursue other options.
Consider Using Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods
If you cannot resolve the issue directly with the person involved, you may want to consider using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods. ADR refers to a range of dispute resolution methods you can use instead of going to court.
Some common ADR methods include:
In mediation, a neutral third party (the mediator) helps the parties communicate and try to reach a resolution. According to studies, mediation has a success rate of 85%. If successful, mediation can be quicker and less expensive taking your case to court.
When it comes to arbitration, the third party, called the arbitrator, will make a binding decision after hearing both sides of the dispute. This does not involve trying to reach a resolution. Instead, the arbitrator decides who wins and who loses.
One can use arbitration as an alternative to going to court, or it can be used as a step in the legal process (known as binding arbitration).
If you’ve tried mediation and arbitration but could not reach a resolution, your next step may be litigation. This means taking your dispute to court, which can be costly.
Seek Legal Advice
If involved in a business dispute, seeking legal advice is critical. This is because business disputes can be complex, and the laws governing them vary from state to state. A reliable business lawyer can assess your situation, identify legal risks, and advise you on the best course of action. They can also represent you in court if necessary.
A lawyer may need to represent you in court if:
- the other party is not cooperating or is unwilling to talk
- the dispute is going to arbitration or mediation and fails to reach a resolution
- You need representation during trial
If you don’t have a go-to lawyer yet with whom you can entrust your business, this is not the time to look for one. Consider looking for a lawyer specializing in business disputes before you find yourself in the middle of a dispute. This will give you peace of mind knowing that you have someone on your side who knows what they’re doing. To work with the best lawyer possible, do your research, check their licenses, ratings, and accomplishments, and find one who already has years of experience winning cases like yours.
Be Willing to Compromise
In any business dispute, prepare to compromise. This means having realistic expectations and being willing to negotiate. If you don’t compromise, you risk prolonging the dispute, which can be costly.
Remember that you may not be able to get everything you want and that the other party is likely feeling the same way. However, you can reach an acceptable resolution for both parties by compromising.
For example, if you’re involved in a contract dispute, you may be able to reach a resolution by agreeing to amend the contract. You can do this without going to court or arbitration. Make sure to document and sign any changes you agree to in writing.
Business disputes are, unfortunately a common occurrence. While it’s best to resolve them quickly and efficiently, this is not always possible. If you find yourself in a business dispute, seek legal advice, be willing to compromise, and consider using alternative dispute resolution methods. Doing so will help you resolve the dispute in a timely and cost-effectively.