4 Tips for Navigating a Contract Dispute

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There’s a scene in The Office where Michael Scott is appalled at his intern, Ryan, for predicting in his class presentation that their paper company would be obsolete within five to ten years. Ryan insists that it wasn’t personal, to which Michael responds: “Business is always personal. It’s the most personal thing in the world.”

In this respect, he’s not totally wrong. The interpersonal aspects of business relationships can be just as important as the actual details of the contracts and agreements. We spend a good chunk of our business hours building these relationships, which can last for years or decades. There’s a strong personal and financial investment there. When a dispute threatens to harpoon that relationship, it’s important to remember how much you’ve put into building it, and how important it is for your company’s continuing success. Preserving that relationship should be a top priority. Don’t let something like a contract dispute sink an alliance that’s worth salvaging. Here are some things to keep in mind when stuck in a contract dispute.

1. Avoid Casting Blame

Focus more on the situation as it currently exists instead of blaming one party for making mistakes — even if you’re in the right. It doesn’t do any practical good to dwell on who made what mistakes. Instead, stick to a neutral tone when assessing the current situation, and don’t let any bitter emotions get the best of you.

2. Schedule a Time to Discuss the Issue

It’s easy for a dig, critique, or sarcastic comment to slip in to a meeting or email when you’re discussing something totally unrelated. This is unproductive at best and harmful at worse. Once you realize that there’s a conflict, schedule a time in the future where all parties can sit down and hammer out the details.

3. Consider a Compromise

Don’t let your pride get the best of you. Stick to your guns when necessary, but consider giving some leeway on some non-essentials if it benefits the business relationship overall. Being unreasonably stubborn can be a killer in multiple factions of business management.

4. Find a Neutral Third Party

It’s possible that all parties directly involved in the dispute aren’t seeing the forest for the trees. You could be getting hung up on the minutiae of the contract and forgetting that it’s there to benefit all parties. With the help of a neutral third party, such as an attorney or mediator, you could find a solution that benefits everyone that you’d never considered.

Still struggling finding an amicable solution to a contract dispute? Speak to an attorney with experience in business law. They might be able to help you find a way to salvage the relationship and preserve your contract without burning bridges.

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Ben Dominguez

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