I'll be the first to admit that I've had problematic relationships in my own business. And because I am the furthest thing from an expert on this topic, when my business and the people within it started to become affected, I hired an expert to help me out.
Specifically, I hired Dr. Patty Ann Tublin--a world-renowned business relationship and communication expert. Dr. Tublin is a clinical psychologist, best-selling author, and speaker who coaches and consults with business partners and owners, married couples, and corporate executives. She helps them maintain healthy relationships in their professional and personal lives.
Dr. Tublin swears by three simple--yet highly effective--strategies that anyone can use to repair a damaged relationship or bolster an existing one. I asked her to dive into this, and here's what she said.
1. You need to rebuild trust
The common thread among all damaged relationships is the trust between both parties has been broken. Trust is the underrated lubricant for success in business, and rebuilding that trust is the first step in repairing any business relationship.
So how can you rebuild trust once it's been damaged? The fact of the matter is that you can only change and control your own behaviors and thoughts. As much as you'd like to, you cannot change the way your partner (or anyone else) acts. However, if you can change yourself, that will, in turn, effect a change in your partner's behavior.
Here's how you can do it.
Take personal responsibility by asking yourself, "What am I doing to contribute to the problem?" If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Accepting even a small amount of personal responsibility will impact your behavior and thinking, allowing your partner to open up.
Try to see the other person's perspective by doing a role reversal. Chances are, you're so embedded in your own position that you can't see the other person's point of view. Doing a role reversal creates a mindset shift and opens both parties up to the idea that there is another legitimate position out there. And yes, this is an actual role reversal. Roleplay it.
You have to accept the fact that there may be two truths. This is not a zero-sum game. The reality is there may be two truths--one does not negate the other. You may, in fact, both be "right."
2. You need to establish effective communication
Effective communication is a no-brainer in any relationship. But people often forget there is one goal--and one goal only--when communicating with people. You have to connect. It's not about convincing or persuading.
Here are three tools for effective communication--so you can truly connect.
You need to understand and be cognizant of your partner's culture. There is a good chance your partner comes from a different background or culture than you. You must be aware of this and how it affects their mindset. Cultural differences are incredibly important, and yet they are one of the most overlooked aspects of effective communication.
You have to actively listen. Listen more than you speak, and do it without a hidden agenda.
You have to be sensitive to your partner's sensitivities. We all have our own personal and professional sensitivities, and we want them to be respected by our business partner. Therefore, respect theirs. Whether it's being on time for meetings or asking a few personal questions--you need to recognize your partner's sensitivities and act accordingly. It will make a difference.
3. You need to have a mature level of emotional intelligence
No matter how level-headed you might think you are, everyone has "those" moments. The moment when you say something that, to put it lightly, isn't helping the situation. You need to maintain a mature level of emotional intelligence so you are in control of your emotions, rather than having your emotions control you--especially when you are angry.
Ask yourself the following questions.
Does this need to be said? Sometimes you're better off just not saying something. We've all laid in bed at night, thinking "I can't believe they said that to me!" or "I can't believe I said that!" Think before you speak and avoid hurtful words that cannot be taken back.
Does this need to be said by me? Maybe it does need to be said, but you shouldn't be the one delivering the message.
Does this need to be said by me NOW? Sometimes you need to wait until things cool off. If it's just going to stoke the fire, wait until cooler heads prevail.
Trust, communication, and emotional intelligence are the foundations of any successful relationship--within your business and personal life. I've used these tools in my business and personal relationships to great success, and I'd urge you to do the same. The results might surprise you.