In any business, conflicts will arise. Whether these are personal conflicts or other conflicts (supplier issues, etc.), knowing how to deal with them can be difficult, and sometimes, as a way of reaction, entrepreneurs will just brush problems under the rug and ignore them. However, this is probably one of the worst ways you can react. Refusing to deal with a problem doesn’t make it go away.
If you’re dealing with a technical issue – like the aforementioned supplier one – there is likely a solution that you just haven’t seen yet. Have a brainstorming session with others in your shared office space to find solutions. No idea is too crazy! Remove the pressure for people to come up with the perfect idea immediately, as often in brainstorming sessions, one person will suggest something that wouldn’t work – but it might spark an idea in someone else that turns out to be the solution. Be sure to take notes so that you can refer back to your ideas and possible solutions.
If you’re dealing with a personal issue, it can potentially be much harder to handle and solve. Though it will be tempting, possibly very much so, do not avoid confrontation. It will just let things fester and grow worse as you ignore the problem. It is also extremely unprofessional and can potentially burn bridges with a person, which is best avoided at all costs.
Instead, it’s best to come up with several solutions to whatever conflict has arisen, and write them down ahead of time. Make sure that you can calmly and succinctly state what you see as the problem and what potential solutions you see, and if need be, practice role-playing with someone else.
Be willing to listen to the other party’s side of things, but also make sure that you know what you want to get out of this situation and how that can happen. If you know what they wish to get out of the situation, attempt to come up with several compromises before talking about resolving the issue, so that they can see that you are trying to see things from their point of view.
After the problem is resolved as best as possible, ask yourself what caused it and how you can learn from this opportunity, and avoid problems like it in the future. These can be difficult questions to ask for the sake of your pride, but this isn’t about assigning blame – it’s about learning, and potentially making changes, so that you can strengthen your business. Even if you think the problem was caused squarely by someone else, and there is no way you could have avoided it, attempt to examine the situation and figure out any warning signs that things were going south.
Ultimately, success in business will be achieved, not by avoiding problems, but by facing them head on and learning from them. Failure is acceptable, as long as you learn from the failure and know what to do better next time.
Research Analyst, Pacific Business Centers (rebranded as Pacific Workplaces)
Courtney’s research for Pacific Business Centers focuses on tracking emerging business trends and best practices – with an emphasis on how they affect business operations, technology, and the future of work trends.