A quick Google search on ‘business partnerships’ brings up the following ‘related searches’:
business partner not contributing
how to deal with business partner problems
business partner disagreements
how to get rid of business partner
Is it just me, or do these read like an escalating plot line, climaxing with a dramatic end?
While a healthy, well-matched partnership can be mutually beneficial and highly profitable, human relationships are complex. Business partnerships, like any relationship where a lot is at stake, are fraught with the potential for broken expectations, changing priorities, and misaligned values. For that reason, it’s important to go into any partnership with a clear-headed approach on how to handle inevitable miscommunication.
If our business partner is also a friend, then — counterintuitively — it’s even more important to have thought this through. This is because in trusted relationships we make assumptions that we otherwise might not. We may have expectations of the other person that we might not have voiced, even to ourselves. And when miscommunication or conflict occurs, we can find it harder to address because we don’t want to harm the friendship.
That means that in a successful business partnership, honest, effective, and non-threatening communication is key. With that in mind, follow these three steps next time you and your partner run into a misunderstanding. Your relationship, and your business, will thank you.
1. Clear the air quickly
If your partner does or says something that irritates you, and it has implications for how you work together, say something soon to nip any resentment or misunderstanding in the bud.
For example, Marie Forleo gives the example of her partner arriving late for a meeting. Rather than ignore it, or wait to bring it up until the partner was late again, Marie opted to voice her concerns right away. She was very frank about not wanting to come across as pedantic or making her partner feel bad, but acknowledged that she felt thrown off by tardiness and it was important to her that they start on time. They ended up having a great conversation and still work together now.
Dealing with concerns ‘in real time’ means that your own interpretation of events doesn’t get the chance to snowball. You can both move on, and your business is minimally impacted.
2. Remain self-aware
At the same time, if you’re reacting strongly to what your partner has done or said, take a break so that you can choose to respond rather than react. You won’t be thinking as clearly, or communicating as effectively, if you’re fighting strong emotion (also known as an amygdala hijack).
If you need to take a short walk to clear your head and come back, you’ll be more emotionally intelligent when you do clear the air with your partner.
3. Withhold judgment
It’s amazing how often the many veils of personality, culture, context, and past experience can lead to our interpreting events differently. Express your perspective and be honest, but give your partner the benefit of the doubt until you have heard them out. You’ll both save emotional energy, and will be able to get on the same page sooner.
Practising effective communication skills is a crucial part of navigating any human relationship, and business partnerships are no exception. Make sure you’re both aware of the ways that you can navigate miscommunication more effectively. It can make or break the success of your business.
Our RESULTS Members gain 24/7 access to our Webinar, “The Secrets of Robust, Successful Partnerships & Mergers” (available in video and audio-only content), plus our transcript, Summary and Member Workbook to help work through the learning. Join our waitlist so you’re the first to know when we re-open registration.