6 Signs Your Business Partnership Will Fail: Conflict Becoming the Norm

October 31, 2013 | By | Reply More


Dr. Dean Ornish, noted cardiologist, says the greatest cause of disease is the stress that comes from conflict. Conflict is bad for your health, your personal life and definitely bad for your business.

When disagreements have reached the stage of conflict, emotions have overcome the issue. At this point no one is thinking clearly or speaking truthfully about the original problem. It becomes all about winning. How useful is that?

You can win the battle and lose a whole lot more. Conflict becomes a nail in the coffin of your marriage, or in your business partnership. Though you may win in court, you often lose in life. This is a major component of the scenario that accounts for the high rate of divorce in marriage and even higher rate of dissolution of business partnerships.

Even if conflict doesn’t reach this dramatic result, living with conflict is an unhappy, unhealthy situation. Not only does it cause you misery, but it is contagious. Employees, clients and family members feel the tension. They may be taking sides even without realizing the unspoken details of the issue. You and your partner avoid meeting, may deteriorate into a yelling match when you do meet, or live in silence avoiding addressing other important issues as well. This is not the scenario that inspires you to get out of bed in the morning.

The best solution is prevention. Resolve things at the disagreement level before they become conflicts. If the two of you can’t get to resolution where you both feel like winners, call in a coach. Actually, my clients find that a monthly meeting is a great preventative and also teaches them the tools needed to handle most situations on their own.

Now is the time to remember that there were good reasons you chose your partner. If you were honest and sincere in your initial evaluation and desire to succeed, it’s helpful to keep that in mind and if things have gotten out of hand, hire an outside expert who can help you get back to that place of harmony and mutual respect.

The first step in resolving conflict is to agree to do so and to agree on the ultimate goal which is greater than each of you as individuals. When you are seriously committed to the same outcome things can usually work out. When you’ve reached this point, a third party, non-biased expert listener and coach is not just desirable, but essential to direct the discussion and keep emotions at bay.

Examples of Conflict in a Partnership

Let me share with you a story about a pair of clients I recently worked with.

Sue and Vicki were partners in a service organization that thrived on new membership and putting on events. Sue and Vicki had been coaching with me for over a year and had learned well how to keep things running smoothly running between them. Now they were stuck on an issue that they weren’t able to resolve on their own. They knew enough not to escalate it before their next coaching session.

Vicki had decided that one of Sue’s responsibilities had more appeal and status than some of her own. Sue enjoyed the task and was loathe to relinquish it. In our session when Vicki pressed, and because they had developed deep caring for each other, Sue was ready to say a reluctant yes.

Before allowing that to be the unsatisfying resolution, I asked Sue to explain what the task meant to her. She said that everything she did prior to that task was build up towards it and that completing the task was closure to a job well done.

Vicki had never looked at it that way. To her it appeared as an isolated task. It was a revelation and she had a different understanding, backing off of her request.

Sue looked relieved.

However, I wanted Vicki to feel satisfied as well, so I asked if any part of her responsibilities gave her that same feeling of fulfillment. She pondered for a few minutes and was able to affirm that a lot of what she did was that meaningful to her and she preferred to continue doing what she was doing.

What happened here? Conflict was averted early even before it became a festering resentment.

And Sue and Vicki got a bonus — they each achieved an appreciation and understanding not only of the other partner but of themselves and the work they did. Their self knowledge increased and their partnership bond deepened even more.

Here is an example of another conflict with a different resolution. The Home and Garden TV Show “Designing for the Sexes” is a brilliant example of resolving conflicts for a win-win with very little compromise. A designer goes in when a couple has two opposing views on how they want one of their rooms to look.

A recent episode was about a husband who did the cooking and wanted his kitchen to look like a restaurant, industrial and stainless steel throughout. His wife wanted a traditional old world look. You couldn’t be farther apart than that.

I always appreciate how the couples (probably coached) never argue for their point of view, but always in a reasonable matter of fact voice state what they want or what they like or don’t about a suggested item.

The outcome is always a beautiful room with very little compromise. What I have observed is the designer is able to incorporate each person’s wants within other options that they hadn’t even thought about.

In this episode, sleek wood panels on the cabinets and refrigerator, stainless steel appliances, granite counter with tiles used as accents created a look that thrilled and pleased both people.

Lesson to be learned: your way is not the only way. If you open your mind and keep your emotions in check you could discover many other and perhaps even more pleasing ideas than the one you think you must have.

NEXT: Cumulative Money Problems


Read Other Articles in the Series 6 Signs Your Business Partnership Will Fail


About the Author:

Dorene Lehavi, Ph.D. is principal of Next Level Business and Professional Coaching. She coaches Professionals and Business Partners and teaches teleclasses on techniques to break through barriers to the next level. Dr. Lehavi offers a complimentary coaching session so you can experience how coaching can work for you. Contact Dr. Lehavi at Dorene@CoachingforYourNextLevel.com or on the web at Http://www.CoachingforYourNextLevel.com

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