Most entrepreneurs, business people, influencers, writers, and others at one point or another have faced tense situations in business. But there is no instruction manual when it comes to these things.
While 99.95% of my business dealings have been positive experiences, I have experienced a few tricky situations over the years, some directly and some indirectly. I have learned at this point how to deal with them, and I'm going to share with you what I know works well.
Here are the five steps to deal with tense business situations:
1. Accept That You May Never See Eye to Eye
I have faced difficult business situations where there was just no seeing eye to eye with the other party. Even though everyone around agreed with me, I'm sure they persuaded everyone around them to agree with their view. That's how bias works.
Sometimes, with big egos and personality differences, it is inevitable that you will just never see eye to eye. In fact, there is no seeing eye to eye with certain types of people. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you can make rational decisions to go forward with rather than worrying about how they feel about it.
I have had cases where someone had a very strong opinion which was different from mine. Even though it was really obvious to me that my opinion was right, they may have equally believed that their opinion was right. In many cases, you have to agree to disagree and see where that leaves you.
2. Have Difficult Conversations Now
I am in the opinion that it is better to have a difficult conversation now, rather than tip toeing around an issue until it becomes an even bigger issue.
Instead of ignoring a tense situation and chalking it up as something else it's not, address it head on and accept that it is happening.
I have practiced this many times, and while people can sometimes think you are (aggressive/argumentative/mean) for going there, it is often the best way to get to the root of the issue to address it head on with no fluff.
Business is not always easy, and these situations do come up. The more honest you are with yourself the better. You can then rationally deal with it rather than carry on with a disillusion or confirmation bias that could land you in hotter water or leave you extremely vulnerable if you don't deal with it properly.
3. Realize That Money Is Often an Accelerator
When people feel wronged regarding money, it can turn a minor difference into a big issue and can be one of the quickest accelerators towards legal battles, fights or major conflicts.
Initially, what happens is that both parties believe they are right. But after discussing with counsel and people that provide unbiased feedback, most of the time the party with the weaker case realizes it and attempts to make things right. Or, if not addressed for too long, the side with the stronger case often goes the legal route.
When things do go the whole nine yards, then it can be full on warfare, which is not fun but occasionally part of business. These situations can be extremely costly, especially for the losing side.
4. Balance Your Yin and Yang
Sometimes you have to take a step back and balance your yin and yang. It's easy to let tense situations accelerate when the fight response kicks in, and often times there is a better solution than your initial thought.
My personal default is to channel my "yin" first. I always look for a calm and simple way to solve problems. I offer many calm and reasonable solutions until I feel that approach is not getting me anywhere.
I've had many situations where I spent months being nice about something, channeling my "yin" until I realized that it was getting me nothing more than someone trying to walk all over me or take advantage.
That's when it's sometimes necessary to channel your "yang." This can be scary for some people and they can feel like they are being mean or aggressive by doing this, but there are both yin and yang for a reason, and they both have their place.
5. Do Something about It
I'm sure you've heard the story of the spouse that was abused for years and didn't do anything about it. Tense business situations where you feel you are being wronged can also feel like this. But the best piece of advice I can give you is to do something about it sooner rather than later.
Once you take that action, even a first step towards a solution, it is usually a major relief. As humans, we have a way of bottling things up until they become even bigger problems and they can even cause us stress.
But instead of bottling things up, take small steps towards dealing with the problem. And often times, it starts with a difficult conversation that can flare up people's emotions, which may be a better solution than tip toeing around the issue for months or years.