Long time trusted business relationships are one of the best things we have in the working world. To have someone you’ve been doing business with successfully for years and who is willing to give you an honest opinion [or smack you upside the head] when you need it, is a true gift.
Here are some tools that will help you repair any damage that may have occurred between you and an old business associate.
- Having to be right or making the other person wrong is not going to work. People who want to work together learn to compromise and consider what’s best for each other.Make peace with letting go of your need to win; it’s easy when you realise there’s no prize. It may only be stubborn pride that’s keeping you isolated from someone who may truly be a valuable ally.
If an apology is required, give it or ask for it. How hard is that really? [And it doesn’t cost you a thing.] Having a no-fault policy is a great asset in many areas of life, and this is one of them.
- If the other person is negatively influencing your business relationships, it is best to first consider the source. There may be competition issues or just personal bad blood.Sometimes individuals, who are feeling emotional pain or hurt, project it on to other people. Make your own decisions and ask the deep questions both to yourself and your associates.
- Rebuilding a business relationship is an easy-does-it process. Don’t expect to have a conversation and immediately go back to your previous level.Take some time to get reacquainted; there really isn’t a formula for how long, but you should probably spend several weeks talking with your client or co-worker to make sure you have a secure understanding of what you want from each other.
- People change, which may be the only thing you can count on. There is always the possibility that you and your associate have outgrown each other. If that is the case, you need to make peace with the situation and move on.There is also the chance the two of you have finally grown up enough to have a truly supportive and profitable business relationship.
- Make allowances for the past, for yourself as well as your associate. If forgiveness from your end is needed, remember that it is a gift you are giving to yourself.No one is perfect, and in most cases, we hurt or offend people without knowing it. If that’s what has happened, letting go of one incident and focusing on your years of successful interaction is a potent choice.
So, if you have an old business associate who you’ve been estranged from, pick up the phone or send an e-mail, and catch up.
You may find that whatever differences pushed you apart will not be as strong as the bond of time that pulls you together, and you are just the person he or she needed to talk to about a new project they are working on.
Speed bumps at work
Everyone experiences difficult moments. It is how we handle these moments that make the difference between businesses that work and those that don’t. I believe that any disagreement can be turned into a positive experience. I call these moments ‘Speed-bumps’ because they require us to slow down and look at the circumstances and behaviours that surround our issues at work. Slowing down is important because if you don’t, the speed-bump is going to rattle you and you won’t be able to respond appropriately.
For most, these uncomfortable moments are really opportunities for growth. If they are overlooked, you are left with the same behaviours that caused the upset. If you utilise the moment to focus on resolving the issue appropriately, without raised voices or saying things that will anger one another, everyone involved and the business, will grow.
Now you need to take a little time to process what has occurred. For most people an hour is enough, but others may need much less or a little more. It all depends on your experience; individuals who regularly use speed-bumps as a growth opportunity need much less time to process their feelings than those who are new at it. Whatever the length of time required, you must agree to never walk away angry with the other person. If that means talking about it into the wee hours of the morning, so be it.
Learning to slow down and looking at your actions, taking corrective measures and agreeing on the best way to proceed is not easy at first. Begin by recognising that you have hit a speed-bump and that you need to use it to make things better. That step alone will keep the situation from escalating into an argument.
Once you have agreed that you are going to work this through in a safe and sane manner, then simply replay your version of what happened between you and your co-worker. This way, you both know what the other person experienced and how they are feeling. You can then respond to their needs rather than react to your own highly-charged emotions.
Once you have experienced what it is like to actually resolve an issue with a co-worker or boss, you will be more available to do it again the next time. You will also have the benefit of not holding on to the negative feelings that accompany arguments. Learning to correctly process and communicate your feelings is one of the best tools you have for maintaining a profitable business and for keeping your job.
So the next time you hit a speed-bump, slow yourself down and take a little time to examine how you really feel about what has occurred. It could be the moment that prevents you from a tragedy and turns it into a triumph.