AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - 38

PREVENTING BROKEN
BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS
Maureen Waddle, MBA, and Laura Baldwin, CPC, ELI-MP, RN

A

s consultants, nothing makes us sadder than
receiving a call from clients stating, " We
cannot work together and have decided to
dissolve the partnership. Can you help us? "
Situations involving clients breaking up a
partnership (and often, a friendship) are an
unfortunate part of doing business. In most
cases, the relationship has been slowly eroding over
time, and both parties feel it's reached an unsalvageable
breaking point before we are contacted. Regardless,
we often wonder if we could have helped prevent this
outcome if we'd been called in sooner.
While the steps taken to dissolve a business partnership are simple, the process can be emotionally
overwhelming and will negatively impact the business.
To avoid finding yourself in this predicament, we'd like
to present some practical, proactive solutions to prevent
relationships from reaching the breaking point. We
believe that investing in the relationship-building measures we've outlined below can help business partners,
saving time and money while enhancing productivity.
Strong business relationships can weather any storm.
1.	Improve your communication skills. Read any
study about conflict in relationships and you will
find " a lack of communication or miscommunication " cited as the primary cause of disagreements.
When your communication fails, the recipient may
be left feeling devalued, suspicious, confused, or
unclear on expectations. To correct this, you must be
intentional with your words, which requires creating
a plan and trying new tactics. One method we use at
BSM Consulting is the L-A-E-R technique:

38

AE // May/June 21

*	 Listen: Consciously take a breath and hear the
other person without focusing on your response.
*	 Acknowledge: Validate the feelings being expressed
to you by describing the emotion(s) you are sensing
from their words-rather than simply parroting
back what they said. It is especially important
to acknowledge the other person's feelings when
you disagree.
*	 Explore: Ask questions that will help you gain clarification and understand their perspective.
*	 Respond: Rather than reacting (or over-reacting),
reply thoughtfully and calmly.
2.	Address conflict. Avoidance is the one sure-fire way
to never reach a resolution and create frustration
(and even resentment) toward another person. Many
people either fear conflict or create a mental narrative that prevents us from addressing it. Fortunately,
tough conversations become easier over time if
you can learn to plan for them in advance with the
tips below.
*	 First, enter the conversation with concern and
empathy for the other person. Be confident that
even though what you tell them may be difficult
to hear, expressing your feelings is better than
avoiding them.
*	 Second, address specific behaviors. Making broad
generalizations or guessing someone's motivation
is not productive and may only cause further
alienation. Instead, simply speak to the behavior
and the impact the behavior had on you.
*	 Third, state what you want or need from the
relationship. While this can be scary, clarifying



AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3

AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - Cover1
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - Cover2
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - 1
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AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - Cover3
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - Cover4
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https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ASOA/asoa_mayjune2016
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