This type of conflict takes are several forms. Mistrust is a big one. Since they stopped talking and planning, they don't see value in the other partner because they begin to mistrust the other persons decision making skills and they feel it is not the right direction. If you don't keep the partner communication up, you will drift apart and as humans your mind begins to build a case as to why the other partner just isn't right for you. Lack of communication starts the process of mistrust.
I had a business mediation consultation this week where two friends decided to start a business and now the one partner wanted out, or to find a way to solve the conflict. Communication had weakened and she felt her friend was not fulfilling her part of the partnership. However, she didn't want to hurt her friendship, they had been friends for years and she didn't want to ruin their friendship over business. The concern of the partner was that the other partner was emotional. Unfortunately, humans are emotional creatures and no matter who you are you must find a way to deal with emotional people, it is a part of life. Bad communication between partners can bring out the emotional side of people and you don't mean to do it because your work style is different from the other. Resolution, sit down with the other partner and ask the question, "how do you feel this business relationship is going and where do you see the future." If you can start from there, then you will know when to bring in a mediator to resolve the details of the conflict and put action items in writing.
I used to have a business partner where we talked about our roles every week as things developed in the business. I was the administration legal guy, and he was the marketing guy to build the client base and business. We knew our roles and I never went over to his side, well because I knew I was very bad at marketing. Never have me sell anything because I will tell you everything you probably don't want to know. I was lucky because he was so good at marketing that he could sell shoes to a lion, he knew how to convince people. We were able to grow our firm to be one of the biggest tax firms in Los Angeles. There were times when issues did come up that we both needed to make a decision on and sometimes we did not see eye to eye. Things did get heated, but in the end, we had to make a decision not based on emotions but on the business itself and what needed to be done.
I love the quote, "In business, when two people always agree, one of them is irrelevant." - William Wrigley. Being partners doesn't mean you are always going to see eye to eye on issues. You will have strong discussions. Both of you have to be relevant to your business and this strong conversation will get you there.
Partnerships always need attention. Communication has got to be consistent. And conflicts must be worked out. Decision have got to be made together on the outcome of the business.
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