Strengthening Business Relationships
Making Reparation can strengthen a business relationship. Whatever your industry sector or role, whatever your actual work involves, most of us need to relate to other humans. Wherever there are human relationships, there is always the possibility of misunderstanding by one or other of the people involved. Misunderstandings easily rupture an existing relationship.
When I was small I held the belief that a disagreement meant ‘The End’. In my early adulthood I believed that a disagreement meant “hold onto your own agenda as hard as you can’, and, ‘do not let them win’. Several decades later, however explicit I believe our contacting to have been, and, however bruising a misunderstanding to either or both parties, I can mostly believe it IS merely a misunderstanding. I can also believe this is The Beginning. Taking the time to unpick the beliefs and expectations of both individuals involved can lead to a much deeper understanding of each other and therefore strengthen a business relationship.
And, I know from experience, that when you what you considered to be a perfectly ordinary email, elicits what appears tirade of accusation in return, it can be both baffling and hurtful. So then we need to calm our ego, our sense of injustice and resist retaliation. There is much to be said for implementing the “72 hour rule” and taking the time to assimilate and comprehend the transaction before firing any hot headed response back across the ether. Technology gives a speed of communication that is not always helpful. Once you have pressed ‘send’ there is no going back…
At the centre of repairing a ruptured relationship lie two skills. Firstly, both individuals must endeavour to understand each other’s point of view. This means both parties must be willing to literally step into the other’s shoes for a few moments and thus see things from ‘their’ side. This takes either the courage of open-heartedness. Or it takes the engagement of an impartial intermediary who can translate each for the other.
Secondly justice is core to healing a ruptured relationship. Each of the people involved need to feel that the other values them. Each needs to be heard. Each needs to be understood. Each needs to have their perspective valued and even endorsed. There needs to be a fairness of listening, of really hearing and of appreciation of the others stance. We do not need to agree with the others stance but we do need to appreciate it.
We humans attach such different significance to what appear to be the same words or phrases that I sometimes wonder how we manage to communicate at all. In order to strengthen our business relationships, sometimes we need to drop our assumptions of what was meant, and listen to the real meaning and intent in someone’s words. This is how we make reparation, by slowing down, by quieting our own ego in order to really hear another’s hurt, fear or intention. For all our business-speak, our level of authority or our industry sector, remembering that all individuals have the same needs, even if they are expressed on different ways, can be a great leveller. This enhanced understanding of the other’s point of view or what drives them means we have a much clearer route map of how to access them on the future. This is invaluable information for future transactions. Rupture does not mean ‘abandon this business relationship’, rupture means attend to the relationship and is your opportunity to find out just what will make it really work,
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