Business development 18 March 2016

How to set clear boundaries with your business partner

Standing up to business partners can be challenging
difficult conversations? can occur frequently amongst colleagues, with the need to stand up to business partners often the most challenging of encounters. Writing for Business Advice, communication coach Robin Kermode argues that these situations can actually present opportunities.

The trouble with difficult conversations is that it’s hard to have them when were feeling upset if we do, the chances are we will blurt out our emotions and say things we might later regret.

And it’s not just business partners that we have these difficult conversations with in times of pressure. Entrepreneurs often have to stand up to their backers, and working life can be extra stressful for startups due to tight budgets and strict targets. Young businesses often don’t have established HR practices in place, which can lead to awkward conversations. Plus, there’s our personal life, which can impact our mood in the office too.

So how can you say what you really want to convey, in a way that your business partner will really listen to you, without flying off the handle? And, how can you turn these situations into positive opportunities?

Here are ten suggestions on how to have a difficult conversation:

  • First, be practical
Keeping the emotion out of it for now and think about what practical steps would make the current situation better. Letting off steam can make you feel better but it rarely helps the situation. Practical solutions usually work better. Once you’ve come up with a plan, then you have to say it in a way that your business partner will want to hear it.

  • Make it sound like their idea
don’t put forward your solution right away – make some suggestions that will lead your boss into thinking that he has come up with the solution all on their own.

  • Flatter bullies
If your business partner is behaving like a bully, try flattery. It always works. “Could I pick your brains?”or “Could I ask your advice, as this is your area of expertise?”

  • Give both sides of the argument
To sound reasonable in a difficult conversation, try to see how things might look or feel from your business partner’s side. Then remember to give both sides of the argument to show that you understand how they might be feeling.

  • Chose the right time to speak out
All your hard work will have been wasted if you chose the wrong moment. Chose a time when they are not hassled and have to time to listen to you.

  • Stay calm
When you’re ready to have the difficult conversation? try not to look or sound angry keep your voice and face relaxed. To help, try this breathing exercise beforehand: breathe in for a count of three and then out for a count of three. Repeat this three times. It lowers your heart rate and really helps with centering yourself.

  • don’t give mixed messages.


Business Advice