What to do when business relationships aren’t working

What to do when business relationships aren’t working

You can’t be successful on your own, no matter how hard you try. Your success as a leader, and as an individual contributing to your company’s larger success depends on how well you build good working relationships. There will be times when those relationships slip or break down causing issues for you and the business to now overcome. Today we’ll look at some areas to consider as you evaluate relationships and tips on what to do if things have started going off the rails a bit. 

Lack of mutual respect and value

Experiencing a lack of mutual respect or value added to one another is one of the surest ways to see if a business relationship is not working. In a healthy business relationship, both parties should benefit and contribute fairly equally. However, if you find that one side is constantly benefiting or not contributing while the other is not receiving equal effort, priority, or attention, it may be time to reassess the relationship.

For example, if you are part of a project team, and an individual shows up consistently late, is unprepared, and doesn’t seem engaged in the work, while the rest of the team continues to push the progress forward, you may have a problem. Another example would be a client asking for more and more without being willing to adjust their payment for the product or project. 

Lack of or broken communication

Solid communication is key to building a strong business relationship with someone else. Shakey or inconsistent communication can also lead to an erosion of trust which of course impacts your relationship with the other person. How is your communication with the other person? Do you feel left out as updates and decisions are made? Do you find yourself following up more than normal with the person? Perhaps you are communicating less with the individual because of a personality rub with them. 

A drag on business or progress

Another sign that a business relationship is in trouble is when it has a negative impact on the results or it is a drag on the business. For example, if a coworker or vendor consistently fails to deliver on their commitments, it can impact timelines that ultimately flow down to impact the business itself,  There is also other residual fallout that can occur including a hit to their, and your, reputation, among other things. Another example is when a business partner makes decisions that are detrimental to your business without informing or consulting with you.

Tips to work through business relationships that aren’t working

  • Open Communication Channels: Establish open and honest communication with the parties involved. Clearly express concerns, expectations, and any issues that may be affecting the relationship. Encourage others to share their perspectives as well. Effective communication lays the foundation for understanding and resolving issues. Have an open and honest conversation with the other person to discuss your concerns and explore possible solutions. The issue may have nothing to do with you personally and could be rooted in the other person being over-stretched or under-resourced. 

  • Seek Mediation or Facilitation: If communication breaks down, consider bringing in a neutral third party, such as a mediator or facilitator, to help navigate the challenges. A neutral party can provide an objective viewpoint, facilitate discussions, and guide the parties toward finding common ground. This external perspective can often lead to constructive solutions.

  • Define Clear Expectations: Ensure that all parties have a clear understanding of expectations and responsibilities. Misalignments in expectations often lead to conflicts. Regularly revisit expectations to make sure that they are still relevant. Clarity in expectations can prevent misunderstandings and foster a more collaborative environment.

  • Establish Boundaries: Clearly define boundaries and professional limits within the business relationship. Understanding each party’s roles and responsibilities helps manage expectations and reduces the likelihood of overstepping boundaries. Setting clear guidelines for communication, decision-making, and collaboration can contribute to a more harmonious working relationship. Consider if you have a toxic co-worker (Show 205) and respond accordingly. 

To be successful in your work, it’s essential to have good working relationships. Evaluate those connections to determine what the gaps are and then work to establish deeper and more meaningful connections when needed. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Take the praise and gifts you receive

Take the praise and gifts you receive

Many of us find it difficult to accept the praise, compliments, gifts, and service that is given to us by others. We can get embarrassed, timid or flat our deny those gifts. Some of our responses sound like this when someone offers us a gift or even a compliment:

“I wanted to give you this gift card as a thank you for your help the other day.”  -Person A
“Aww, you shouldn’t have…. I can’t accept this”  -Person B
“Sure you can, I know you love Starbucks.” – Person A
“It really wasn’t a big deal.” – Person B

We may deflect the compliment by giving out information instead of actually accepting the compliment.

“I like your new shoes!”, -Person A
“I picked them up last week on sale at the running store. They were a great deal.” -Person B

What happens when we deny other people’s praise

A compliment and gift are just as much about the giver as it is the receiver. When you battle, deflect or fail to acknowledge the praise, you are denying the joy that the giver receives by giving you the gift. It’s also denying their thankfulness which can be off-putting.  If someone realizes how much of a hassle it is to give you praise for a gift they are likely going to do it less in the future. 

We all want to be validated in what we do by those around us right? Be aware that when you push away the gifts and praise that it could have a lasting impact. A person should not have to argue or play a cat and mouse game with you to give you praise. 

What happens when you accept the praise

Accepting praise is not an ego thing unless you make it that way.  It’s also not about humility and modesty.  When you accept praise the right way you are strengthening the bond of the relationship. You are also showing the person that you are comfortable and confident in who you are as a person and leader. 

Tips to take praise well

Say thanks. Acknowledge the compliment without the back and forth that we talked about earlier. Use what verbiage is most comfortable for you but be aware that some generations accept thankful responses differently. Many younger leaders say, “no problem” meaning that it was not a burden for them to help (even if it was). Older generations prefer “you’re welcome” because they may see the help as a task they completed. I rotate no problem, and you’re welcome depending on my audience. 

Remember the power of body language. Refer back to show #186 The Power of Body Langauge for tips on making sure you are communicating your non-verbals in the proper way.

Avoid sarcastic and dry-humor responses. I appreciate dry humor and sarcasm, but it has no place here.  I often hear this mistake in the running community.  You tell someone that their race time was great and they respond with something along the lines of, ” Well you don’t know many runners then.”  Avoid self-depreciation and subtlety burning your compliment giver in the process. 

Share the praise If you get compliments or praise on a project or service that was a group effort, say thanks and let the person know that you will pass the kind words on to the others involved. This makes the giver feel great and your team obviously will love to hear the positive feedback on their hard work. 

Accept praise and gifts.  You earned them! Both parties benefit when you are able to navigate those moments with acknowledgment and gratitude. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

The Be Series: Be the Why

The Be Series: Be the Why

People rely on each other to make it through life and It often falls down to a close circle of friends and family. Some people aren’t as fortunate to have a strong inner circle and as a result, they isolate themselves, their mental and physical health deteriorates and they will never reach their fullest potential. 

When I say Be the Why, I mean for you to be someone else’s why.  “You are the reason I made it through all of this.” “I would follow you anywhere.” “You kept me from making some really bad decisions.” 

Be a relationship builder

Strong relationships can be taken for granted or undervalued. One of the top reasons great people stay in awful jobs is because of the relationships that they have built with their peers. They are willing to endure stress and dissatisfaction in order to keep relationships that are important to them alive. 

Be the Why for someone by building a strong and edifying relationship that adds true value to the other person. When someone feels like you have impacted their life and care for them, they will do just about anything for you. Listen to the person’s troubles and fill in their blind spots for them. Take time with them; time is more valuable than money itself in most cases. 

Be consistent

People are creatures of habit and highly value consistency. Oddly enough, consistency is also hard to come by in human interactions. Rooted in poor planning and prioritization and made worse by modern-day distractions, being consistent can be more elusive than it has to be. 

Be the Why for someone by being consistent. Be careful of the things that you say you’ll do or promise and then always come through on those things that you do. Just being consistent in a few small things with someone will go a long way. Every time I play music with a guy in town, he texts me afterward to thank me. In five years, he has never not texted me! It’s not a monumental deal for him to do, but it has added a lot to our friendship. I know he appreciates me and I feel valued and as a result, I’ve gone out of my way at times to play just because he’s going to be there.  (More to this story can be found at PTB# 107: Finding Leadership in Music)

Be sacrificial

Be the Why by your willingness to sacrifice things that are important to you for the sake of the other person. It’s important to have a sense of what the other person feels is a sacrifice so that there is not any unneeded tension. For example, Let’s say I missed seeing my favorite band to help my daughter with a school project. She might not realize they were in town so she shows no appreciation for the gesture. I’m then upset because I feel like she doesn’t value what I gave up to help her. On the other hand, my co-worker is over the top grateful because I gave up my lunch to help them on a project when lunches really aren’t that important to me. 

Understand that sometimes people will over and undervalue the sacrifices that you make for them. Prepare yourself mentally for both of those occasions. Don’t let the misunderstanding of the amount of sacrifice impact your willingness to continue to sacrifice things for them.  

Someone out there likely needs you to be the Why for them. Look at those around you. Build them up through strengthening the relationship and being the most consistent person they know. Sacrifice what you need to in order for others to be successful. Being the Why for someone can change, and even save, a life.  

Make a better tomorrow. 

How to turn around a bad reputation

How to turn around a bad reputation

There are few things in life that are permanent. You can even have your old tattoo of Hello Kitty that you now hate removed. People sometimes believe that you can’t shake a bad reputation. Instead of trying to climb out of the situation, they instead embrace it because they really don’t see another option. If you’d like to turn your reputation around or know someone that could use the help, be encouraged that there is a way out with hard work and dedication. 

Own up to poor behavior and communicate it with others

One of the best places to start in recovering from a bad reputation is to own up and acknowledge your reputation. Acknowledging the obvious is a great way to break the ice and communicate to others that you have the self-awareness and willingness to change. 

Next, (authentically) ask for forgiveness with the people you may have wronged, commit to better behavior and ask for a chance to prove yourself. Once you walk through that step you can go forward. 

Seek help, prove yourself and build trust

Know that turning around a bad reputation is a worthwhile endeavor, but it can also be a longer road than you realize.  Seek help with a trusted advisor, coworker, or friend that can give you insight or perhaps share their experience in walking a similar path. Be open, listen and take the steps for improvement. 

People have a tendency to hold onto memories, especially those that are exceptionally good or bad. They are reinforced through repetition and become difficult to change. You are going to have to prove yourself for an extended period before people buy-in that you have truly changed.  Here on some tips to encourage you along the way:

  • Set realistic expectations for yourself and others. Remember that it takes 66 times of repetition before our brain starts to make a new neural connection. 
  • Celebrate the small steps in progress.
  • Keep encouraging notes to yourself around the house, school or workplace. 
  • Track your positive change on paper or a calendar so you can visually see the impact.

Accept that some won’t let go

No matter how hard you try to turn around your reputation, some people simply won’t let go of their perception of you. You are going to have to be ok with that. Be confident in your new leadership and life walk and continue to lead yourself well. Don’t let an unbeliever discourage you from the new path that you have chosen. 

You can turn around a bad reputation without having to start your life, career, or job over. Focus on the right behaviors, seek honest communication and prove your claims. Show them that you are better than some poor choices and habits….because you are!

Make a better tomorrow.