Mediators are peacemakers of sorts. They take in all sides of the argument and try to help all parties come to an agreement, even though it usually requires a compromise. Professional mediators are pros at what they do. They can often help businesses avoid costly court fees by getting them to agree on things before it gets to that point.
If you’re in business with a partner, disputes are inevitable. If they escalate to the point that legal action is a possibility, a professional mediator may be the best solution. In fact, they’re so useful that many businesses have clauses in their operating agreements that stipulate that partners must hire a mediator if they can’t come to an agreement. But the type of mediation you need relates directly to the type of dispute you’re having. Here are three of the most common dispute types, along with the mediation style they require.
You can expect to have many disagreements, especially if you’re running a business with one or more partners. Not every dispute will require mediation, especially if it’s simply an argument about whether to hire an additional worker or attend a certain marketing conference. You still can build a mediator into your processes, but the person could just be a neutral third party like a business associate or close mutual friend.
Some disagreements, however, are much more serious. You may be dealing with a breach of contract by one of your business partners, such as disclosure of company secrets. A legal mediator can come in, facilitate conversation, and help you arrive at a resolution. The mediator will only act as facilitator. You’ll still need to work together to come to an agreement.
In some cases, business partners seek mediation when it’s time to close the doors. In that case, a mediator can work with you to outline the terms of your business dissolution. Along with the mediator, you’ll go through all of your business contracts and make joint decisions on the division of assets. The mediator may make recommendations, but you and your business partner will ultimately be the deciding parties. But it’s important to put everything in writing and make sure you both agree on it before making it legal.
Professional mediators specialize in helping resolve disputes. You can find a good mediator for your area through the American Bar Association’s directory of legal professionals. Make sure you choose one that specializes in business-related disputes and offers the style of mediation you need to resolve your dispute.