When possible, try to formulate a plan with your business partner before any disagreements arise. Lay out your specific expectations and responsibilities ahead of time, so no questions arise later. Put your agreement in writing so you can refer back to the document in times of trouble.
However, if you and your business partner currently have conflict, do not fret. Use the following tactics to assist you in conflict resolution:
1. Request outside help.
Whether it be an unbiased business associate or your company’s attorney, seek help from outside your business partnership. If you and your business partner both respect the third party, it might be easier to listen to their suggestions and come to a resolution. You may also elect to hire a neutral mediator or another individual trained in conflict resolution.
2. Redefine your roles.
Sometimes a step in the right direction is to reassess your role in the management of the company. See what works and what was not successful. By redefining your role (and the part your partner plays), you may strengthen the management of the business and both play to your strengths and skills. Remember that just because you share equally in the rewards of the company, does not mean that you need equal day-to-day work.
3. Stay calm and take your time.
Since you likely have a lot invested in your business, both monetarily and emotionally, every change or decision might feel deeply personal. If you and your partner cannot agree on a certain issue that is important to you, try not to shut down and take it personally. Instead, try to remember why you initially entered the partnership and try to value your partner and his or her viewpoint, even if you do not agree. Mutual respect will take you a long way.