In a week when love and partnerships are universally celebrated on Valentine’s Day it might seem a bit perverse to look at signs warning you that your relationship with a client or supplier, no matter how durable, is in trouble.
But, painful as it might prove, is it better to make a clean break than limp on in a worsening atmosphere?
A few months ago I spotted an MSN article that focused on 10 telling signs that would suggest your personal relationship is coming to an end. What was interesting is that when you apply these in a slightly different way, they relate to business relationships as well.
So we’ve adapted MSN’s ’10 signs it’s over’ for business to business relationships.
1. You want different things. When talking about strategy you can’t agree on the right direction to take.
2. You fight constantly. In a good relationship the highs should outweigh the lows. A bit of bickering and the odd debate is perfectly healthy. It’s even encouraged if you learn to argue effectively, listening as well as talking. But if, these days, it seems that all you do is nitpick and disagree, it’s time to address why.
3. Things feel too one sided. Does it seem that you’re the only one trying to make this relationship work? Then it’s time to confront your client/supplier and find out why they’re not pulling their weight. A relationship needs two committed parties. If one half isn’t fully invested in the partnership, it will inevitably cause problems.
4. You’re bored. After the honeymoon period, most relationships settle into some kind of comfortable routine. You should never, however, mistake boredom for comfort. If your working relationship no longer results in the occasional spark, it could be a sign of boredom that needs addressing.
5. You’re rarely in touch. Back in the good old days there was a constant dialogue: regular phone calls, texts back and forth, emails detailing new ideas. Of late, however, you’ve started screening calls, ignoring texts. And if your other half does manage to get in touch, you’re filled with a feeling of mild irritation rather than excitement.
6. You just know. Human instinct is a powerful thing. However much you want things to work and no matter how hard you try to push aside feelings of doubt and dismiss the notion that something is wrong, you just know in your gut that some things aren’t working out.
7. You no longer feel respected. Respect is a massively important part of the relationship. Both parties should hold each other in high esteem if it’s to flourish.
8. You’re starting to hate the things you liked about them. You used to laugh at their jokes but now you just find their quips and anecdotes rub you up the wrong way and you’re not sure why.
9. You’ve stopped being intimate. It used to be such fun. You’d even get together with your respective families/partners outside work. But things have cooled lately.
10. You have more fun when you’re apart. Spending time together should lift your spirits and be creatively and commercially productive, not bring you down. That’s a clear sign that something is wrong.
Can you think of any telling signs that could mean a business to business relationship is in trouble? We’d love to hear them.