I Hate Business Conflict!

I asked and was given permission to put my craft store sign on a business neighbor’s property several months ago. Last week I had an unwarranted, non-verbal, negative run in with her.  Since the only contact has been over my sign – so customers can find me – should I ignore it or confront her? There could be a dozen reasons why she telegraphed a negative attitude – most of which could have nothing to do with you. I believe you have a couple of options; ignoring her is not one of them. First, I would indirectly put myself in her presence very soon and observe her reaction.   If the experience is not negative, perhaps she was having a bad day like most of us do. But if the body language is still negative, I would confront her. Perhaps visit her place of business and confirm that you are not in direct competition.  If business is not going well for her, she might see your sign as taking business from her. If you can be alone in the store with her, start up a benign conversation that subtly assures her that you are not a competitor. If she is still non-responsive, that is when I would become direct with her. Ask her if she has a problem having your sign on her property. If she does, ask for some time (30 to 60 days) in order to find another spot that would guide customers to your business. Hopefully you have already done some of this research prior to the confrontation.  She might feel embarrassed and deny her fears. If that happens and you sense it, I would begin my due diligence and find an alternative spot. You want a heads up in case she gets brave enough to ask you to move the sign. Confronting is never easy, but if you don’t address it, mutual customers might be used as a way to injure your business. People become foolish when they feel threatened. Since both businesses are home-based, making you neighbors literally, it is important to address this issue before much more time passes. Good luck!

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