Business conflict resolution is the process of solving disputes between businesses or within a workplace. The causes of business conflicts are many, ranging from simple personal disagreements to contractual disputes. Business conflict resolution may be done on a casual, informal level within the workplace, or during a formal session with a professional mediator. In some cases, good business conflict resolution can dramatically improve communication, solve important problems, or even help avoid a lawsuit.
The business world is stressful, complex, and vital to many people's financial survival. These factors easily combine to make a situation rife with possibilities for conflict and disharmony. Many businesses invest time in creating a structured response to both internal and external conflicts using conflict resolution techniques. In most cases, the goal of business conflict resolution is to allow each side to voice issues and work together to craft a fair plan to solve the situation.
On an internal level, business conflict resolution may be used to manage personality conflicts, departmental communication problems, issues between workers and management, and even conflicts between partners. Family businesses often use conflict resolution strategies to manage issues rooted in both personal and professional clashes. Conflict resolution efforts are usually managed or overseen by a disinterested third party, such as an executive from another department, that is believed to be a neutral party by all disputing factions. Resolutions drafted through these sessions might contain new departmental protocols, disciplinary action, or other solutions that can help the company move forward from the problem.
In some cases, business conflict resolution may be used to settle disputes between two separate businesses, or between a client and a business. In these cases, it is more likely that a professional dispute mediator will be called in, since representatives affiliated with either side of the conflict may be unable to be neutral. Contract issues, labor or wage disputes, and customer service issues may all be the subject of business dispute resolution. Both sides may agree to pay a mediator's fee in order to involve the more costly option of taking a dispute to court.
Some of the keys to successful business mediation include neutrality, equal treatment, and focusing on the outcome. If the mediator's neutrality is in question, warring parties may be less likely to work in good faith and with a measure of trust. Good conflict resolution also ensures that each party is fairly heard and given time to present his or her case; a party that feels left out of the process is unlikely to agree to a solution. Mediators may also need to work hard to keep all parties on the subject and moving forward; if the session breaks down into recriminations and side issues, it may be very difficult to craft a workable solution.