5 Tips To Save Business Relationships That Have Soured
Business relationships are different from interpersonal relationships because there is always a measure of professional distance. This is a good thing, but can sometime result in uncomfortable moments when you wish you could communicate something to a key associate, but for the good of your business, you can’t. Sometimes, like in romantic relationships, those things left unsaid have unintended negative consequences that can leave you with a damaged business relationship. How can you get those relationships back on track?
Keep time on your side
As with any interpersonal issue, trying to speak with the person you may have upset is the best policy to prevent a situation from getting too heated. The longer you go without addressing the matter, the worse you will look. However be respectful if the other person doesn’t want to address it immediately. Everyone processes events differently, and you don’t want to add gas to a fire. Often a simple, short apology, and an invitation to explain the situation further is the best approach. If the other person isn’t receptive, it’s best to leave it for a while.
Look ahead to prevent a snowball effect
If you are going to be dealing in the near future with the wronged party, it’s in your best interest to intervene at some point before you’re face to face in a boardroom or at a business lunch. Don’t make it a bigger problem by letting it go undressed before an important event. A simple phone call, or an offer to meet for coffee can help defuse the situation, and might give you an opportunity to explain what happened, cleaning the slate for your meetings.
Actually express remorse
There’s no substitution in this world for the truth and actual contrition. Take a negative lesson from politicians: don’t be the person who apologizes by saying “I’m sorry if YOU were upset/offended.” You’re in this trouble because they were offended. Address the issue and express that you are sorry that you caused them trouble. Heartfelt apologies heal. Fake apologies hurt.
Make business amends
Can you help that person out in some way? Is their child looking for a new doctor? Do you have a line on sports tickets for a team they love? Can you get them a reservation at a restaurant no one else can get into? If you’re serious about making it up to this person, now’s the time for a grand gesture.
Know when you’ve been beaten
Sometimes the damage has been done, and you won’t be able to reconcile. The best thing to do is to continue to be respectful, and to walk away knowing you did what you could to repair the relationship, but don’t lose the lesson.
Business relationships by their very nature can be tricky, but with the help of some basic manners, you can help ease tense situations and deepen your relationships.