Conflict is a natural part of business. You’ll always be seeking to make your business as successful as possible and your clients will always fight to get the most for their money. Sometimes, this means you will butt heads over relatively minor issues. Other times, this means you’ll come into conflicts that can hurt both your business and your client. Below are a few conflict management styles and techniques that will allow you to solve problems without having to resort to drastic legal measures. Not every solution works for every problem, so be sure to think about how each can apply to your business.
Agree, and Move On
It’s not always worth damaging your relationship with a key client to fight for something that doesn’t really matter. Take a moment to look at your argument and figure out why you are fighting. If the lasting negative impact to your company will be less than that incurred by losing the client, it might be a good idea to swallow your pride and do things your client’s way. This isn’t always the best choice, of course, but it may be the best way to ensure that your cash flow isn’t interrupted and that you don’t lose an important business contact.
Bring in a Third Party
Some solutions are just too difficult to see when you are too close to the problem. If you find yourself at an impasse with an important client, you may want to bring in a mediator. Professional mediators are by their nature impartial and they can help both parties come to a mutually beneficial decision. One of the best parts of working with a mediator is that any decisions are both mutual and binding. This means you aren’t required to agree to anything and that you know any agreements made between the parties will be upheld after you leave.
Employees in the US spend about three hours a week dealing with conflict, and a fair amount of that time is spent in arguments with no clear resolution. Instead of spending that time arguing with your client, it’s often a good idea to reschedule a meeting to give both of you time to decide on your next move. While this does leave the door open for your client to go to another business, it also shows you place enough importance on the relationship to think on the issue.
Let it Go
According to Working Dynamics, managers spend over thirty percent of their working day trying to manage conflicts. Stop to think to yourself if your current client issue is actually worth that wasted time – and if it’s not, try to figure out why you’re fighting so hard to keep this client. If you reach an impasse with certain clients, it might be a better idea to let the client walk away than to try to salvage the relationship. Make sure to note the problem in your case management software and move on – once you’ve selected this option, there is nothing more you can do.
Conflict resolution is always something that requires a great deal of introspection. Try to think about the root cause of your problem as well as the relationship you have with your client before you do anything drastic. Choosing the right resolution style may have a lasting impact on your business, so never proceed from a place of anger. With a little forethought and some willingness to compromise, you should be able to come to a resolution that will allow you to move forward with your business in the most fiscally responsible manner possible.