If you’re looking to rebuild a damaged business relationship, aim to rebuild trust. Assume responsibility and try to see the conflict from your partner’s perspective. Re-establish communication and use your emotional intelligence to optimize your interactions.

Human relationships use trust as a lubricant. And once a party loses trust in another, relationships fray, disintegrate, or end in animosity.

The same is true for business relationships. But while overcoming trust issues in personal relationships is exceedingly difficult, business relationships may lend themselves better to honest repair work.

Building trust is not easy. Rebuilding it is even more difficult. 

The 3-Step Plan to Mending a Sour Business Relationship

Rebuilding trust is an exercise in persistence, empathy, and tolerance. And no one can guarantee it will be successful. Yet that is what you have to accomplish. Without trust, neither masterful communication nor superior emotional intelligence will get you far.

Rebuilding Trust 

You may have heard the adage about trust being like a mirror. Once someone breaks it, no one can ever restore it to its original state.

While this is true, business coaching professionals will tell you that you can do plenty to rekindle enough trust to allow all parties involved to enjoy the fruits of a mutually beneficial business relationship.

  • Alter your behavior. The only variable you control in a relationship is your behavior. By tweaking the way you behave and think, you can indirectly elicit behavioral changes in your partner.
  • Commit to introspection. Ask yourself what you contribute to the problem, and accept responsibility.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of your partner. Perform a role reversal. You believe your position to be legitimate, but you fail to consider that your partner’s position may be valid as well. Through a role reversal, you allow yourself to see the dispute from an alternative angle, and thus you set the stage for a mindset shift that may solve the impasse.
  • Escape the zero-sum mentality. As tempted as you are to see only your version of the truth, you have to consider that there may be more truths and that one such truth may not invalidate the other.

Re-establishing Communication

In the grind of our everyday existence, we tend to use communication as a tool of persuasion. When looking to mend a frayed business relationship, try to shed this routine. Use communication for its purest purpose only: to connect.

  • Truly listen. Listen with the intent to understand your partner’s perspective. Don’t listen only to find a faulty argument or something you can use to drive your point through.
  • Consider sensitivities, cultural and otherwise. We all have our cultural and professional sensitivities. Be mindful of your partner’s peeves and respect their sensitivities. Pushing someone’s wrong buttons is the last thing you want to do when looking to rekindle your relationship.

 Relying on Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is not only about recognizing how other people react to something you say or don’t say. It is about recognizing your emotions and keeping them in check.

Recognize and manage your emotions. 

When we get angry, we tend to surrender control over our emotions. Emotionally intelligent people know that in times of anger, it is doubly important to maintain this control.

Before you blurt out an angry remark, consider the following:

  • Is it necessary to say this? Is what you are about to say true beyond the shadow of a doubt?
  • Is what you are about to say good or bad? If it’s something that will likely cast a pall over your relationship, you’re better off not saying it.
  • Is what you are about to say likely to help you rebuild your relationship? If the answer is no, there is no point in saying it.
  • Are you the person who has to say this? You may not be the best choice to deliver a message.
  • Do you have to say it right now? Maybe waiting for a more suitable time makes sense.

Leadership coaching teaches that trust is the foundation of every healthy relationship. Beyond it, you will need communication and emotional intelligence as well.

Resetting a damaged business relationship is not easy, but with the right approach, it’s possible.

Do you want to learn more about leadership coaching and intelligent leadership? Take a look at my books.


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