While it’s incredibly powerful to know how to forge meaningful relationships both personally and professionally, it’s also important to accept ending a relationship when it’s the right thing to do.
There are certainly differences between business and personal relationships, but there is also quite a bit of overlap. For some, their business/job can be their second “child,” which means any relationship made is incredibly personal.
This can make it very difficult to accept a changing dynamic or give up contact altogether – it’s not only giving up potential opportunities, it can be about giving up a friendship as well.
Full disclosure: I recently had to do this with someone I respected in a professional capacity. It was very difficult since I considered them a friend as much as a colleague.
Over the course of a few years I realized the dynamic had been changing, and not for the better.
What once was a genuine exchange became transactional in a way that I ultimately felt was manipulative. At first some things seemed a bit odd but I didn’t think anything of them – just a mere “double take” on recent communications but no real consideration past that.
Over time I realized that any sort of communication with them caused significant anxiety to the point where it just wasn’t worth it any more.
Business communication can be direct and cold to some (though from my days in the military I LOVE it), but that directness is also what makes it palatable. You’re talking for a purpose, so let’s be blunt.
To that end, it needs to be tactful bluntness (aka, not exclusively blunt). Agreement terms and even emotions at play should be able to be talked about openly, but if the other party continually misdirects or tries to frame your observations as your problem or attempts to de-legitimize them, then the personalities either aren’t meshing anymore or they’re not valuing the relationship.
I’ve heard the opinion that business communication and decisions should be entirely emotionless, but that only fosters relationships with that same paradigm. In my opinion, if you are working for or with a true partner towards a shared goal, it is not emotionless.
Keep in mind that at no point do they owe you anything! This is not a case of should – this is a case of whether the other party does or doesn’t, which is a choice they have every right to make.
If you realize that their communications lack any sort of genuine constructive component, it may be time to end things or accept a new dynamic and adjust accordingly.
Remember, we are constantly teaching people how to treat and value us at the same time we are learning it from others. Be receptive to others while fostering relationships with those that are receptive to you as well.
If you don’t, odds are that you will give more than you’re getting. Some lopsidedness is to be expected especially when you are the initiating party, but not to a point where things are totally one-sided and there is no mutual value exchange.
In a successful professional relationship, both parties are proportionately winning. Think about the dynamic at play and whether you pick each other up or if they only put you at a disadvantage.
Always bring your relationships value, but never de-value yourself.
You ultimately only have control over yourself and your involvement in a relationship. It is up to you whether you consider the dynamic as positive or not.
If you decide to end things, do not “crap” on the other party. Burning a bridge is never the answer, but deciding not to walk along that bridge or walking on it differently is.
Assuming they are reasonable and respectable, the relationship is never over. Keeping in touch may lead to opportunities and the additional “space” provided may give you both an added perspective on things. Who knows what the future holds?
Noone is right or wrong in these situations, but it is important for us to identify them, be aware of ourselves and what we control, and make the best choice for us.