Whether it’s in business or in any of sphere of human activity, if two people are in a dispute, the problem is never the thing the dispute is about, the problem is that they are having a dispute. Disputes are just a particular type of conflict.
In the story of Bill and Ben, there was a conflict about what Ben had done, and Bill’s rejection of it, because the two people were in a stage of their business relationship in which it is expected that both parties will be fight for their needs. They were in conflict because they were scared their individual needs weren’t going to be met. It was nothing to do with the content of Ben’s document, or his timing in presenting it.
Often a dispute arises between two people in business which every other person aware of the dispute can see could best be resolved by both people sitting down and calmly, like adults, discussing and resolving it. This is another example of the surface conflict just masking a deeper issue.
Sometimes, both parties refuse to behave like adults, or they refuse help: they clearly have too much invested in the fight.
Often a conflict will reach a point where help to resolve the point(s) at issue is essential. Whether in the detail of a disputed business agreement, or whether a building extension does or does not contravene planning regulations a lawyer or other specialist has to be called in.
But resolving the specific conflict won’t have enabled the two parties to resolve their need for conflict. Whilst opportunities for another conflict may not arise imminently, without some sort of work by at least one the parties, the chances of another conflict are high.
emotional intelligence at work sees business relationships as following five stages, of which power struggle is the second. Conflicts arise in this stage (indeed they are what define it).
So, where the two people in conflict are key to a business—for example, they are two directors—it would be very useful to see this as a symptom of their being in the power struggle stage.
If so, they may well need coaching to help them get out of it in addition to any help to resolve specific problems.
That is dispute resolution.
> Stages of a business relationship: Stages 1 and 2: honeymoon and power struggle