Relationship Building when Facing Unsavory Business Situations

Chris King

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Oftentimes in business dealings we are faced with unsavory situations with clients and peers. These can prove to be destructive or, if handled well, can actually strengthen our relationships. In this article I share some helpful tips and techniques I have learned.

Take a walk in your adversary's shoes. In an unsettling and/or unnerving situation when we feel we are “right" and the other person is “wrong" or unreasonable, I suggest we step back and tell the story from the other person's point of view. I once took a class from a wise mentor. He had us write a paragraph describing a co-worker who bothered us - either through their actions, words or attitude. I wrote about Marvin who lacked drive and the willingness to do his share of any job. In my paragraph, he was a shirker and lazy.

Then we were to pretend we were the person we had written about and to write a paragraph in their words about what they thought of us. What an eye opener!

We finished the exercise by writing a final paragraph about what we liked about our antagonist. It was amazing that after walking through Marvin's paragraph about me, I had plenty of good comments to make about him - his laid back, easy-going nature with a smile and a hearty laugh for everyone, no matter what was happening. And, from that day onward, I stropped being bothered and began really liking him.

If we can't see and empathize with all sides of the situation, we will damage the relationship we have with a peer or client permanently. I am reminded of a program I had set up for an organization to which I belong. The presenter was giving the program to our group in November - I had booked him four months in advance to be safe. We touched base in October - all was on track. Then, one week before the date of the program he called to say that because of a family situation, he wasn't going to be able to speak. He could send us his slides and a copy of his talk, or try to find someone else.

I tried to understand his side and empathize, but it was difficult. We lucked out, because he gave me the name of a young man who was terrific - probably, even better than the original man. I know, however, that I would never suggest or book the first man again for any program. It isn't fun to have someone back out of a commitment, even if they have good reason.

Now, when I face an unsavory situation, - especially with a client - these are the steps I take:

  1. How do I view the situation? How would I describe what is bothering me and what I think is fair?
  2. How does the other person view the situation? What is upsetting and/or bothering them? And, what do they feel would be a fair resolution?
  3. Putting all of this information together, what is the true situation? And is there some way we can come to a mutual, win-win resolution?

Accept the fact that there may not be a reasonable solution that makes everyone happy, but I suggest that if we consider the problem from the other person's point of view, and make them realize that we understand how they are feeling, there is a better chance for, at least, softening the blow.

Chris King is an entrepreneur, professional speaker, storyteller, writer, website creator / designer, free agent, and fitness instructor. Sign up for her eclectic E-newsletter, Portfolio Potpourri, at You will find her information-packed E-book How to Leave Your Audiences Begging for MORE! at and her business website at


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