The Wise Entrepreneur

Top Tips for Managing Business Disagreements that Every Entrepreneur Must Know

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Now, our blog log indicates that this is the 100th blog since commencement. While the number 100 might not be great for some reasons, I think it is good evidence that we are making headway. I also think that fewer but qualitative blogs mean a lot more than all kinds of daily bits and pieces posted on the internet in the name of blogging. I’m already receiving very positive feedback so we will continue working to build on the foundation that we have laid.

Let me quickly shoot a blog now, belatedly for last week.  Today our topic is on disagreements.

Operating a business sometimes brings with it disagreements. While some of these may be trivial, hence not requiring very serious thinking and solutions to diffuse, others could be very serious and could even threaten the entire future of the business. I believe your objective in business is not to hit and run, but rather manage the business for the long term so that you can get the most from it. You might even be planning to leave that business to your beneficiaries to continue operating. This means that you need to properly manage business disagreements in the interest of your investment. These disagreements could originate from various parties that relate to your business, such as workers, suppliers, customers, regulatory authorities etc.

The tips below, which are very useful in managing disagreements, were documented by a gentleman by the names Dale Carnegie in his book entitled ‘How to win friends and influence people’. Though he did not give this advice specifically for businesses or entrepreneurs, I think I find his approach very useful in entrepreneurship and this is why I decided to share it with you. The approach needs patience, a good attitude and also respect for whoever you are disagreeing with. I know some entrepreneurs are bad tempered and use many unprintable words when annoyed during disagreements. You have got to cool down my dear Entrepreneur! When you lose your temper someone will pick it up.

So, the key tips are highlighted below, but with the additional explanations being my words: –

  1. Welcome the disagreement. This sounds very easy but sometimes its’ not easy in practice. This is why I said you need a positive attitude, even if you are the stronger negotiating partner and you feel that your opponent loses by not agreeing with you. If you have some pride, send it on holiday first so that you have a clear mind to manage that disagreement.
  1. Distrust your first instinctive impression. Many times most people think that they have the best ideas and interests and so other people’s ideas do not matter much. Oftentimes what first comes to mind during negotiations and disagreements might be baloney. So, distrust your opinion and impression and give your opponent the benefit of doubt.
  1. Control your temper. I mentioned above that if you lose your temper someone might pick it up, and you never can tell what he or she will do with it. Do you get what I mean? It would still be your temper but in somebody’s hands! Resolving disagreements require controlled temper. Even if you were brought up swearing at people who disagree with you, forget about that upbringing for a while and face reality. You are looking for a win-win situation. You are a businessman or businesswoman. Aren’t you?
  1. Listen first and listen attentively. By the way, some people are simply terrible when it comes to listening. If you are that type, try and read some articles on attentive and focused listening. They might help you. When you listen well to people, they notice and this adds value to the conversation. You might perceive things in a better way and understand why your opponent does not have the appetite for some of your views. Don’t try to construct responses in your brain before you have completely heard out your opponent! Ok? Be honest – some people do this, and can even complete your sentence for you then proceed with the answer. Come on!
  1. Look for areas of agreement and dwell on them first. Entrepreneur, this is a powerful tip in managing business disagreements. Don’t you think so? Certainly, I don’t think the situation is that bad, to the extent that you don’t agree on anything! Start with what you agree on, and then move slowly into areas of disagreements with tact, and before you can say Jack Robinson you might be agreeing on most things. Isn’t this simply fantabulous?
  1. Be honest. Good and sustainable business requires honesty. Dealing with business partners also requires honesty. I’m not telling you to disclose the color of inner wear you are donning. Know your limits and don’t disclose all your business secrets otherwise you might be seen as stupid in the end. However, don’t try to catch somebody while he is napping. If your opponent is napping, wake him or her up first then continue discussing business. That is honesty. That is being authentic. It’s about fairness and arm’s length dealings. Can you be proud if you benefitted unduly from a dumb or blind person?
  1. Promise to think over your opponent’s ideas and study them carefully. When you disagree, quit like a gentleman! Don’t leave murmuring all unprintable things. Keep your head. This is another top tip in managing disagreements. Promise your opponent that you will think over his or her view points and return for another discussion. In this way, when you return for a discussion you will still find a friend. Ok? How do you feel when you leave with temperatures very high and you are swearing? Swallowing the shame to get back to the negotiation table may be difficult (and even if you do you are now negotiating with technically a different individual) and this may make you lose even a very lucrative business deal. Do you understand what I’m saying? Put pride and ego aside my dear!
  1. Thank your opponents sincerely for their interests. I repeat – sincerely. Not the kind of thank you while wishing your opponent should be punished by God himself! Come on! It is simply a business disagreement. The world is not ending yet. You could agree tomorrow and still proceed to do very good business for some decades. So why spoil it now? Appreciate your opponent for their interest in working with you and also the time they have spent discussing with you, even if you never agreed. Have some steel in you!
  1. Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem. Time is a solution to many problems. So, the final tip here to manage business disagreements is to give it some time. When both sides take time to think through the points of disagreement afresh, they may start seeing the light emanating from their opponents view-points. However, don’t take too long and even forget the points where you had agreed, because this would be like starting everything including the disagreements afresh.

OK! I guess I have written enough for today. I need to get running to something else now. I believe that you have got some good tips for managing business disagreements. So, next time such a situation arises, reflect on the above points and make the best use of them. Who knows, you could become an expert in managing disagreements, or in negotiation. The above are also negotiation tips by the way, and you could add them to previous tips I gave about negotiation. You may impress your opponent so much that he might co-opt you into his team when negotiating another vital contract with another difficult third party. Won’t that be great?

Till then,

The Wise Entrepreneur

Clayton W. L. Mwaka

Clayton W. L. Mwaka

Clayton W. L. Mwaka, a Ugandan chartered accountant and motivational speaker with 24 years of diverse experience, specializes in business administration, international consultancy, and lecturing. He advocates for personal empowerment through balanced living, qualitative leadership, and paradigm shifts, aiming to unlock individual potential globally.

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