My partners and I used to get into big arguments. It ranged from how a particular project was handled, to fighting over roles and responsibilities, to disagreements on what a service should be priced at.
But if I could do it all over again, I would argue differently. All of these topics we fought over the need to be talked about, but not the way I handled it at the time.
I’m more grown up now, I’ve learned a lot in my walk with God, and my marriage has helped me tremendously on the topic of handling conflict. It’s no different in marriage than in business partnerships – HOW you fight makes the difference.
We all get into disagreements with our business partners. Most partnerships are high conflict zones. It’s only natural that owning a business – when money is on the line, and reputation is at stake, and there are families to feed – produces a high-stress environment. But HOW we, as two entrepreneurs, argue will either strengthen our business or weaken it to the point of shutting down operations.
So how do we argue? How do we disagree healthily? How can we have conflicting talks that build up and not tear down?
The word of God has a lot to say about the way we communicate with each other. HOW we talk to each other will. Make all the difference.
The bible says:
Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing. (Proverbs 12:18 NLT)
Ultimately, you’ll need to change the way you speak if you want to have a healthy business partnership and a business that thrives.
Here are some key takeaways I’ve picked up along the way.
Don’t Talk Like Mom or Dad
A big problem in partnerships is that we argue like we’re a parent scolding our child.
When you say things like “You should do this!” or “You had better do that!”, You don’t resolve anything. It makes your partner defensive. You’re acting like an authority figure over them when, really, you are both at the foot of the cross playing at the same level.
Instead, you have to talk adult-to-adult. You’re both equal, no matter what the percentage split is between partners.
Next time you’re ticked off about something, talk about your feelings and how the action affected you instead of offering your unsolicited advice about how you would have done a better job. With this approach, your business partner won’t feel belittled or attacked.
Don’t Let Things Escalate
Another tip for business partners is not to let things escalate. When you reply to an email with something more hurtful, and carbon copies others to see it, you’re making it worst. When you raise your voice and cut your partner off, you’re adding fuel to the fire.
You’re a Godpreneur. Stay calm, ask questions, and listen. Remember James. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.
When your business partner feels like they’ve been listened to, they’ll calm down, and now you can have a great meeting to improve whatever happened in the business to cause this argument.
There are disagreements in every business partnership. Handled correctly, God can use that tension to make our businesses even stronger.