Business relationships can make or break your career. The people you encounter can turn into mentors, introduce you to new clients, and even hire you for an unadvertised position. But for entrepreneurs, these connections are even more vital. Building a business requires fostering relationships to hire the right people, generate a buzz, secure funding, and attract new web visitors and prospects.
However, it's possible to completely destroy a business relationship without ever intending to. These types of connections take energy, direction, and careful planning to build the right rapport. Did you know when you aren't focused on building your relationships, you may be weakening them and pushing people away instead? Take a look at how you can ruin a business relationship in three steps.
1. Keep communication haphazard.
Haphazard communication puts strain on a relationship and can turn it into a burden. This can be a wise strategy when you're trying to push people away. By keeping communication arbitrary, you'll keep your business acquaintances guessing. You'll also be sending a message that their relationship with you is simply not that important. In addition to hit-or-miss communication, keep the things you say or write in email completely unclear. The more someone has to contact you for clarification, the harder it will be for that person to trust you.
The big picture goal is to cut off communication altogether. When there's no communication, everyone will make assumptions about what's going on. Assumptions are rarely correct and can be prone to exaggeration, so no one will ever be on the same page with anyone else. Soon the details start falling through the cracks and everyone's projects and goals suffer.
A lack of communication damages your business relationship beyond repair. What's the message you're really sending? You're telling your business partner you are disorganized, untrustworthy, and ultimately not worth forming a close business relationship with.
2. Play the blame game.
Whenever something goes wrong, never take responsibility. Owning up to your own mistakes is vital for strong relationships, so you'll want to avoid that at all costs. Instead, aggressively blame your business acquaintance or team members. Make it easier on yourself and can convince yourself everyone except you is at fault. Now you can argue vigorously whenever the moment for confrontation arises.
When running your business relationship, it's also crucial important to rely on "you" language. For example, "You always make these mistakes." Avoid using less offensive "I"-focused language to separate the emotions from the issue at hand. Words like "always" and "never" are also your allies as you systematically destroy your remaining business relationship. Remember to position yourself as the victim to keep others feeling frustrated just by being around you. Fortunately, they'll soon tire of being blamed for everything and will stop working with you in droves.
Finally, be sure to project your own issues onto the people you work with. Treat them as if they will flee at the first sign of failure. After all, that's what you would do. Your insecurities aren't just everyone else's problem; they're also everyone else's insecurities. Seal the deal by playing the victim card at all times to make sure everyone else is at fault. Take a step back and watch as your business relationships unravel beyond repair.
3. Be completely inauthentic.
Being yourself is so passe when actively ruining business relationships. After all, when people get to know the real you, they build a level of trust and the opportunity for a satisfying business relationship. Instead, go the opposite direction. Constantly change your mind and embrace the persona of a chameleon who can fit into any situation. Work diligently to keep people from ever knowing what to expect from you in terms of personality or character.
Find the key to being inauthentic by focusing only on yourself and what works for you. Whatever you do, don't spend any time considering what's best for your team, company, or business partnership. Instead, adopt an all-or-nothing attitude. Act however is needed to win favor, seal a deal, or make a sale--even if it means lying or misrepresenting your position.
By being a complete chameleon in every situation, no one will really know you and no one will trust you. Your personality and ethics will fluctuate depending on the situation and send red flags and warning signs to everyone around you. Soon, no one will want to build a close business relationship with you.
Hopefully you're reading this as tongue-in-cheek advice that won't do you any favors, but despite how funny the article may seem, it should serve as a powerful reminder that how you act can unintentionally sabotage your business relationships. Consistent, clear communication, taking responsibility, and being authentic are the keys to building strong business foundations.
What other unintentional actions have you seen that can sabotage relationships in your business? Share your best stories in the comments below.