Some of us argue for a living. Every day we are witnessing conflicts arising in commercial contractual relationships and cooperation projects. We can see how vast amounts of companies’ resources are taken up each day by commercial disputes.
Commercial disputes take the focus away from productive business operations, take up enormous amounts of time and impose a financially burden on the organisation. In addition, disputes are often embodied in a certain person or persons within the organization and, thus, create excessive stress for those involved and may even leave a permanent mark in the lives of those caught up in them.
“Lack of empathy on the negotiating table considerably increases the likelihood of a dispute”
Conflicts often arise from agreements that are ambiguous or otherwise open to various interpretations. Sometimes, distrust between the parties has already taken root during the contractual negotiations. Lack of empathy on the negotiating table considerably increases the likelihood of a dispute. Palpable promotion of one’s own interests without any regard to the needs of the other party fosters distrust between the parties.
Lack of trust typically stems from a fear of being mistreated. If the parties had concentrated on building trust during the negotiations, instead of conducting themselves in a manner that destroys trust, the parties would also be likely to embark on constructive discussions in the event of a subsequent dispute over an interpretation of a contractual clause, for instance, as opposed to automatically jumping to the conclusion that they are being wronged by the other party.
The parties should invest in the prevention of disputes already in the drafting stages of the agreement. In order to prevent disputes, we must first understand how they usually arise. In circumstances, where despite all the preemptive measures taken, disputes have nevertheless arisen, they must be professionally managed from the beginning. This subsequently maximises the chances of success in the potential proceedings.
Gentlemen’s agreements are the worst. After all, they require the presence of at least two gentlemen. Otherwise, a gentlemen’s agreement is simply an arrangement between two people, neither of whom is a gentleman and both of whom expect the other to comply with the agreement while they personally have no intention of doing so.
Using legal proceedings as means of revenge is the lowest of the low. Despite the fact that the party is well aware of how much time and resources a litigation or arbitration will take away from the productive business operations of both parties, how much stress and how many sleepless nights it causes, how it destroys relationships, traumatises families and causes not only great expenses but considerable economic losses, nothing can sway them from seeking their vengeance.
In these situations, I always like to remind people of the old Chinese saying: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
The Dispute Academy is a course tailored for companies with the central goal of preventing disputes and successfully managing conflicts. The course is designed for an organisation’s employees who are authorised to undertake commitments on behalf of the company.
For more information, please contact Jussi Lehtinen,