“I’m going to sue you!” These are the words that you never want to hear as a business owner. You don’t want a business partner to say it, or a vendor, employee, and certainly not a customer.
Often this is a threat designed to get your attention. Clearly, this person is upset and they want you to focus on what they are saying. We know that most people who say this are blowing off steam – they won’t really sue; lawsuits are messy, lengthy and expensive.
But what should you do when someone makes a threat of litigation?
Do you laugh and say, “Bring it!” Do you immediately capitulate and give them everything they want? Do you threaten to fire them, terminate their contract, or sue them for more?
(Disclaimer: There is a time and place for litigation. Sometimes it’s the only way to resolve a situation. But useless, mindless and reactionary litigation isn’t good for anyone.)
What does a successful business owner do when threatened with a lawsuit? She CoPES.
1 – Communicate
Threats are a powerful attention-seeking action. See through it and start a conversation. Sometimes it really is a misunderstanding.
2 – Politely
It’s easy to want to retaliate, name call, threaten and the like. It won’t help, and it can make matters worse. The Golden Rule wins this round.
3 – Without Escalation
Don’t add fuel to the fire. Enough said.
4 – Stay off Social media
Alice Roosevelt Longworth is said to have embroidered on a pillow, “If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me.” But whatever you do, don’t post on social media about the wrong you’ve suffered.
And if that doesn't work?
If you’ve tried to resolve the issue without success, or if the threat is credible and not just someone blowing off steam, call us immediately. We can help you navigate the next steps which may determine whether you end up being sued, or if the issue can be resolved. Time is often of the essence.
To learn more about this topic, as well as tips on using mediation to resolve disputes, go to this article.
Francine E. Love is the Founder & Managing Attorney at LOVE LAW FIRM, PLLC which dedicates its practice to serving entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses. The opinions expressed are those of the author. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.