Things You’d Love to Say to Business Partners…but Shouldn’t
We all have business partners, even if we don’t own a business or work in professional services and have an equity partner. In corporations your business partner could be another business unit, a strategic alliance you form with an organization, or a supplier. I bet there are times you have wanted to say things to this business partner and thankfully didn’t. Why do I say thankfully? Because all those things you want to say that are in your head aren’t nice, are likely to turn into conflict and will not result in a positive outcome.
When working with clients I hear all kinds of crazy notions people want to say to their business partner. What might seem obvious to you not to say, I promise the examples below are real-life situations from my own experience with clients.
- You’re a jerk, or you’re stupid, or how can you be so dumb or something similar
- What the F____ is the matter with you?
- I’m tired of your (wife, SO, parent, manager…) influencing the conversations we have.
- Your (wife, SO, parent, manager…) is stupid, they don’t know anything about the business.
- You dress like a slob, your hair or makeup is atrocious, can’t you dress better?
- You want more money and aren’t even doing the job we pay you for now.
- Why the (insert 4-letter word) don’t you ever answer emails or return phone calls…you make me look bad.
- What do you actually do here? I never see you working.
- Who would have thought I couldn’t count on you?
- You act like a child about everything.
- Why do you think you know better than me?
- Do you want this relationship to work, because to me it doesn’t seem like it.
- When was the last time you actually did anything productive?
- You’re a liar.
- You’re a fake.
- You’re incapable of doing the job you want here and I’m carrying you.
- I’m going to talk to the others and get rid of you.
And the list goes on. Bottom line, those thoughts we all have about other people, all those judgmental assumptions we make and want to share with the other person, I encourage you to stop and think before opening your mouth. Truly, there are things you should never ever say. I had a client once who told her partner she was jealous of her because she was married and had a child and her partner didn’t. What an awful thing to say to someone! An HR executive I know told her business unit the reason they didn’t get any attention from her for hiring was because they were terrible interviewers and she wasted too much time finding them the right people. What??? You clearly see these are conversations you should never have…those thoughts need to stay in your head. Once they are said you can’t take them back, they are out there and even if the other person forgives they aren’t likely to forget.
Other conversations you can have, you just need to consider how you are saying it. Telling someone they are a liar isn’t going to do anything but cause confrontation. Can you tell someone you don’t believe them without calling them a liar outright? Will it change the outcome? What if you told them that you weren’t comfortable you had the whole story from them, or were unclear about the facts or could they walk you through what happened in detail so you understand? Not, it’s not a guarantee they won’t get defensive. It does give you a fighting chance to have a conversation though, whereas shouting they are a liar leaves you in confrontation without a doubt.
Of course, the problem with saying things you shouldn’t is that it will change the relationship you have with the other person. It’s hard enough to overlook something mean a loved one says to us, we are invested in that relationship, but business relationships are different and we don’t have the same level of investment. Because we aren’t invested, we don’t take the time to understand what they really meant to say, if this was said out of pure frustration, or did they really mean it? We accept it at face value and it colors how we think and feel about the other person from that point forward. Thus, every decision we make is affected by our thinking and feelings, which may overshadow how we evaluate the business decision. We might even make a poor decision as a result of the relationship.
Now you’re thinking this is great insight, Linda, but what if what I think is really true? Should I keep that to myself? Maybe it stresses you out to keep it bottled up and not share. I get it, truly I do. We all lose our cool at times and I’m not suggesting we should be perfect. What I am saying is before you blurt it out, whatever that thought is that can’t be taken back, consider the impact. How will it change the situation? Will the other person or situation change as a result of you sharing? Is this about you rather than really working to make the business relationship better? Only you can decide how important it is to say things to your business partners. My experience is some things, in fact perhaps many things, should be left unsaid.
Are you battling with your business partners on company direction, roles, decision making, and just about everything else? Not sure if it can get better? Schedule a complimentary thirty-minute call with Linda to discuss your unique situation and discover if you could benefit from partnership coaching.
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